Mumbai v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Mumbai, 1st day February 6, 2013

Vijay keeps himself in contention

M Vijay erased his poor form in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy with a free-flowing century in Mumbai, to boost his chances of being selected for the upcoming Australia series
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The Irani Cup has proved a boon for M Vijay twice in the same season, and it has helped that India's regular openers are not in the best form for him to stay in the reckoning. His knock of 266 for Rest of India in September put him back in the spotlight after more than a year out of the Test team following a series of below-par performances, but the subsequent Ranji season seemed to undermine that achievement. In five games for Tamil Nadu, he managed a highest of just 42 and an average of 17.25, but his 76 for India A against England was a timely boost. He has followed that up with a century on a big stage ahead of a major Test series, albeit in a manner, and at a time, different from his 10-hour effort in September.

That innings was virtually flawless until Vijay had reached his double-century, and a result of a determination to bat big. His free-flowing 116 today came under circumstances that would find him under greater pressure. September was the start of a long season; this could probably be his final opportunity this season to make an impression, since he's not part of Board President's XI or the India A squads against Australia.

Vijay admitted his "motivational level was high" coming in to this match, and that he realised how important this game was for 'fringe' players like himself. Shaky to start his innings against the moving ball, he didn't hesitate to reach out to drive when deliveries were pitched up as he settled in, was harsh against the short ball, his stand-out flick through mid-on and midwicket flowed freely and brought up his century.

Mumbai's bowlers erred too often, provided ample width - one of Vijay's 18 boundaries was an upper-cut six over third man. The spinners were largely ineffective, and Shardul Thakur bowled a no-ball off which he Vijay was caught-behind on 79. The conditions, too, didn't necessitate any undue restraint, and Vijay's confident approach was not exclusive to him on a day his team dominated with the bat.

Vijay's batting makes for attractive strokeplay, but at the Test level he's shown a tendency to get out playing loose shots, and this was evident during the tour of the West Indies in 2011 after which he lost his Test place. He managed a highest of 45 in six innings then, partnering Abhinav Mukund, spooning catches to point, offering catches to the keeper while stepping out to play what appeared like a half-hearted push.

But it's precisely such an approach that has got him runs in the shortest format, and today those punches, firm pushes, clips off the pads, found their desired target. What was intriguing was he chose to play that way in a game - for which he was most certainly selected for his potential than his recent statistics - that could decide his immediate Test future.

"I enjoyed my batting here as I always do, I just wanted to see the ball and hit," Vijay said. He may have regretted doing that when he edged Thakur on 79, attempting an expansive drive against a moving delivery. The reprieve ultimately got him a century, but his eventual dismissal served as a reminder of his struggles in tougher times. "I was a bit lazy, I could have played a little straighter," he said about being bowled by a reverse-swinging delivery from Abhishek Nayar.

That laziness has cost him in the past. Has it done so again at a time when there were more runs for the taking, or has Vijay done enough for the selectors, who saw him bat at the Wankhede, to consider him seriously for the upcoming Tests? His second innings, and the warm-up games against Australia that don't feature him but do some of his competitors, could help provide a clearer picture.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • realfan on February 7, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    @Raj12345 seriously dude? 12 tests isnt enough to test one's capability???? yes vijay got 12 test matches.... his average is mere 30.... and if you think its enough then you are wrong..... what i mean to say is i am not against Vijay or anybody... i mean these guys, RAHANE , TIWARY have to get there chances r8.... they have been benched for too long.... 5 years of benching isnt going to help any cricketer... any way any one who gets selected should play in the match , thats what matters.....and what everybody expecting in this series is a big win...i will be happy if vijay gets selected and PLAYED well.....

  • usernames on February 7, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    Love how Tamil Nadu trolls have come out of their closet to support their pathetic fringe players -- Mukund, Vijay, Badri, et. al. who have *always* failed in whatever opportunities they got. Vijay, especially, does NOT deserve any chances at the test level whatsoever.

  • 30-30-150 on February 7, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    ANYBODY's a better choice than Virender 'gift-my-wicket' Sehwag.

  • Raj12345 on February 7, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    @28041991. No one is going to deny Rahane here, he is best middle order or can open test. No doubt it. But why you are comparing Vijay with Rahane. Vijay is far below than Rahane, no doubt it but Vijay never given chances like Raina or Yuvi, that is whole point. How can you prove then. If you comapre with Vijay & Rahane, I would say Rahane is very good that is why he is still in radar after failing so many ODIs. I am sure Rahane will click if CSK ( since India team is fully dominated by CSK) gives him 5 more ODIs. There is no chance for TN cricketers in Indian team, it is all about CSK, not a state. I wish CSK to loose badly in coming IPL so that indian cricket can change and newer can come into team. But sorry to say this Vijay will get into team since he is in CSK. there is a chance for Rahane.

  • RK.Chandru on February 7, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    People in various forums have already started campaigning for Raina. hasn't he proved enough already that, he isn't made for it??? Think beyond Rainas, Rohits, Yuvis and Jadejas... They just do not have it in them to be a middle order test bat... They had a lion's share of opportunities already to prove that too. Give some deserving player a chance who can play here and as well abroad well and score consistently. After just one good knock, people have started talking of a place for him in the test team... how come places are taken for granted for a select few? how come the vested interests in the media start campaigning for certain players in unison and one voice???????? `wish, selectors ignore once in a blue moon performance of these players and look for fresh set of young and deserving players. May be, Badri deserves one last chance too....

  • on February 7, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    Vijay and Jaffer should open for India in the forth coming series versus the Aussies , Jaf may be an old horse , but he is amongst flood of runs , may be he is a flop show outside the subcontinent , he can be worthy if selected . even also Vijay , we should look beyond Gambhir and Sehwag .

  • dailycric on February 7, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    until vijay shows on an A tour that he can perform abroad, he should not be selected. he was miserable in the west indies, in conditions that were more batsmen friendly than what we will face in our next three tours - SA, NZ and England. there are at least five others who have higher claims than him to a test opening spot in terms of form and / or technique: rahane, jaffer, mukund, dhawan and jiwanjot. it will be a bad, bad move if the selectors pick vijay. it will show that their judgment is as poor as vijay's is around the off-stump!

  • Batmanindallas on February 7, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    Vijay should travel with A teams and show he can deliver abroad...there are others ahead of him including Rahane,

  • jals on February 7, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    To be honest Jaffer must be the first choice as Indian test opener. This season also he play well. I hope Mr. Sandeep Patil will not ignore him this time. All the best Jaffer.

  • Vivek_Singh3089 on February 7, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Seriously guys..just after one century u are considering Vijay as a pick for Tests....don't forget that he was facing 130kph bowlers of Mumbai...& in the past I have seen of Vijay struggling against fast bowlers....for TN fans IMO Mukund is a much much better choice than Vijay...I seriously feel that our new Test openers should be amongst Rahane,Mukund,Jiwanjot & Akshath Reddy. Vijay is another domestic bully like Badrinath, Jaffer, Majumdar, R Jadeja who will continue to haunt domestic bowlers....

  • realfan on February 7, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    @Raj12345 seriously dude? 12 tests isnt enough to test one's capability???? yes vijay got 12 test matches.... his average is mere 30.... and if you think its enough then you are wrong..... what i mean to say is i am not against Vijay or anybody... i mean these guys, RAHANE , TIWARY have to get there chances r8.... they have been benched for too long.... 5 years of benching isnt going to help any cricketer... any way any one who gets selected should play in the match , thats what matters.....and what everybody expecting in this series is a big win...i will be happy if vijay gets selected and PLAYED well.....

  • usernames on February 7, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    Love how Tamil Nadu trolls have come out of their closet to support their pathetic fringe players -- Mukund, Vijay, Badri, et. al. who have *always* failed in whatever opportunities they got. Vijay, especially, does NOT deserve any chances at the test level whatsoever.

  • 30-30-150 on February 7, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    ANYBODY's a better choice than Virender 'gift-my-wicket' Sehwag.

  • Raj12345 on February 7, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    @28041991. No one is going to deny Rahane here, he is best middle order or can open test. No doubt it. But why you are comparing Vijay with Rahane. Vijay is far below than Rahane, no doubt it but Vijay never given chances like Raina or Yuvi, that is whole point. How can you prove then. If you comapre with Vijay & Rahane, I would say Rahane is very good that is why he is still in radar after failing so many ODIs. I am sure Rahane will click if CSK ( since India team is fully dominated by CSK) gives him 5 more ODIs. There is no chance for TN cricketers in Indian team, it is all about CSK, not a state. I wish CSK to loose badly in coming IPL so that indian cricket can change and newer can come into team. But sorry to say this Vijay will get into team since he is in CSK. there is a chance for Rahane.

  • RK.Chandru on February 7, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    People in various forums have already started campaigning for Raina. hasn't he proved enough already that, he isn't made for it??? Think beyond Rainas, Rohits, Yuvis and Jadejas... They just do not have it in them to be a middle order test bat... They had a lion's share of opportunities already to prove that too. Give some deserving player a chance who can play here and as well abroad well and score consistently. After just one good knock, people have started talking of a place for him in the test team... how come places are taken for granted for a select few? how come the vested interests in the media start campaigning for certain players in unison and one voice???????? `wish, selectors ignore once in a blue moon performance of these players and look for fresh set of young and deserving players. May be, Badri deserves one last chance too....

  • on February 7, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    Vijay and Jaffer should open for India in the forth coming series versus the Aussies , Jaf may be an old horse , but he is amongst flood of runs , may be he is a flop show outside the subcontinent , he can be worthy if selected . even also Vijay , we should look beyond Gambhir and Sehwag .

  • dailycric on February 7, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    until vijay shows on an A tour that he can perform abroad, he should not be selected. he was miserable in the west indies, in conditions that were more batsmen friendly than what we will face in our next three tours - SA, NZ and England. there are at least five others who have higher claims than him to a test opening spot in terms of form and / or technique: rahane, jaffer, mukund, dhawan and jiwanjot. it will be a bad, bad move if the selectors pick vijay. it will show that their judgment is as poor as vijay's is around the off-stump!

  • Batmanindallas on February 7, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    Vijay should travel with A teams and show he can deliver abroad...there are others ahead of him including Rahane,

  • jals on February 7, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    To be honest Jaffer must be the first choice as Indian test opener. This season also he play well. I hope Mr. Sandeep Patil will not ignore him this time. All the best Jaffer.

  • Vivek_Singh3089 on February 7, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    Seriously guys..just after one century u are considering Vijay as a pick for Tests....don't forget that he was facing 130kph bowlers of Mumbai...& in the past I have seen of Vijay struggling against fast bowlers....for TN fans IMO Mukund is a much much better choice than Vijay...I seriously feel that our new Test openers should be amongst Rahane,Mukund,Jiwanjot & Akshath Reddy. Vijay is another domestic bully like Badrinath, Jaffer, Majumdar, R Jadeja who will continue to haunt domestic bowlers....

  • on February 7, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    I am not surprised. People are aghast that only one performance and say only one innings and Vijay is in contention. Please wake up guys. This is not one off performance from the TN opener. The fact is that he is never been a failure in international matches (with one century to his credit) only that you people always see things with dark glasses. He was (in fact like any other TN batsman for eg., V.Sivarama krishnan, T.E Srinivasan, S. Sharath and recently Badhrinath and Dinesh Karthick) never given chances which was given to Kholi or Raina or Yuvraj for that matter even to Shewag or Gambir to prove himself in international matches. Why he or Karthick is not finding a place in India A or Bd President's XI is a mystery. Curse of being talented TN batsman!!!

  • agarkarno1 on February 7, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    Vijay is much better than Gambhir for sure. He is more aggressive which would be important against Aussies. Gambhir's test performances are pathetic of late.Dhoni is ridiculous to persist with players like Gambhir in tests and Rohit in ODIs. No international team will keep players who fail this often. Dhoni is nowadays arrogant by keeping the players who he like or may be believes they have talent. Sourav thought Sriram is a bright prospect but when he failed for couple of games, he didnt persist with him and we got Sehwag as opener. Dhoni has to move on with people who fail to get successful players. He has to realise there are other people than Rohit and Gambhir to represent India. Besides all these, I am still a Dhoni fan.

  • prabha_cricfan on February 7, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    He is a classy inconsistent player...

  • on February 7, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    DISGUSTING. On a slow track, against bowlers considered inferior to an aging Zaheer & Agarkar, a guy who has FAILED against Zimbabwe's pacemen scores a century and promptly they think he should play test cricket again versus the likes of Starc & Steyn. Rubbish. Let Rohit S & Nayar get their VERY FIRST chance in tests now. Raina's 1st class avg is merely 41. ENOUGH chances have been given to Raina, Yuvi & Vijay. Mukund is a better opener than Vijay. Unmukt Chand has at least done well in Australian conditions.

  • on February 7, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    I think now everyone can see in perspective the runs scored by Vijay....if a genuine tailender like Mithun can get a trouble free 51 and Raina can pull off an impressive 134, so based on this knock only he should not find a place in the final team

  • realfan on February 7, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    one good performance from vijay and everybody saying he is fit to be opener..... what about rahane guys?????? 15 runs more than Vijay, have strike rate 9 more than vijay , ofcourse strike rate doesnt matter,,, 9 centuries more than vijay who played 1 match less than rahane.... and more importantly consistent and technically sound......

    ofcourse he had failed so far i odi's, but that what happen when a player is benched for too long.....

  • jmoses on February 7, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Vijay and Jaffer should be selected for the opening slot in the upcoming Aussies test series. We have persisted with Gambhir's and Sehwag's failure for too long now and its time we look forward. Selectors should be positive and think about the future.

  • mrcool on February 7, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    Just 1 good innings and failures like vijay and raina back in contention...whats wrong done by Robin uthappa.

  • balajeev on February 7, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    Surely, anyone is better than Gambhir ? If a man hasn't scored a test hundred in 3 years, that means he is not good enough. The "out of form" justification is ridiculous.

  • Prad81_viji84 on February 7, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Option 1: Why not BCCI (Selection Panel) set out a vote session from public with a list of 25 best players in the country and see how the votes go against each player (with sufficient reasons).

    Option 2: Always we follow statistics played in India for selections. But does it mean anything when team India goes away from India to play Tests & ODI?

  • joseyesu on February 7, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    I prefer dhawan to Vijay.Apart from these performances, will India make a bold descision to drop Sehwag and Gambir?

  • kingcobra85 on February 7, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    They are looking for a opening batsmen the look at the comments is filled with Rahane and Nayar who are middle order batsmen. This is the story of Partial Indian Cricket Follower.

  • Anand0906 on February 7, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Remember, Test cricket is about consistency and staying at crease for a long time. It is basically about consistency. Vijay in this season has performed miserably. His top score was only 42. You cannot judge a test player by just one innings and that which comes in a batsman friendly pitch. There are players like Nayar, Rohit who have performed exceptionally well in the Ranji season. So, we must not create any fuss over this knock. Let's wait and see his performance in the forthcoming matches and decide.

  • Prad81_viji84 on February 7, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    Vijay is a good batsman in sub continental conditions. But what exactly he needs to sort out is pace bowling with both sides movement. Australia are very good mind gamers where they know exactly how to plot out a batsman. Some one of Dravid, Amla, Clarke claibre is obviously out of question to plot out a plan but for Vijay it's going to get very easy to plot out a plan by the Australian bowlers. Therefore we need more batsman who can occupy the crease for a longer time (someone similiar to Pujara)

  • TRAM on February 7, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    I saw this innings exclusive in youtube. If the same strokes were played by one mr. RSharma, there will be 100 media outlets and commentators praising the same strokes as genius & class. Since it is Vijay, every one will talk about his failures and his weaknesses. As long as this partiality exists, India is not going to see a meritorious team. With the same batting conditions and bowling, Gambhir would have made a 30+ score and gotten out. Sehwag would have scored a single digit score. Thats how bad their form is.

  • on February 7, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Don't just look at his score. He was beaten by A. Nayar many times and he has hardly improved his technique. Does not fit the bill in any case. But if Mithun keeps getting chances to play in major tournaments, why not Vijay.

  • TRAM on February 7, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    ok. You guys wanted him to fail. He didn't. Now that he has scored a century you dont know what to write (including the readers' comments). Keep talking about his negatives. Keep bashing...

  • Raj12345 on February 6, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    But how come Dhawan is better in same non quality attack.

    But fact is Dhawan not given enough chances to prove his worth. It is time to bring him to test team along with Vijay. Poor Mukund is sidelined by CSK.

  • anuajm on February 6, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    I'll be surprised if this scratchy century leads Vijay to the Indian team. He'll easily be sorted out by the Aussie bowlers. I'll bet on Sehwag for a couple of matches though not Gambhir who has been woefully out of form in tests. Rahane should be the first choice though i'll be closely monitoring Jaffer. I hope age is not a factor for him, he is good enough to play another 3 years and that is long term for me. No Bhajji also, though he'll rule himself out with his bowling. Nayar might get an opportunity if he bats well..

  • Raj12345 on February 6, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    All real facts comes now by writer now. better one this time. :)

  • busybrats on February 6, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Sid - Vijay really struggled early on. He was getting beaten , lots of inside edges ... scrappy against a not so quality attack. Dhawan looked the much better opener.

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  • busybrats on February 6, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Sid - Vijay really struggled early on. He was getting beaten , lots of inside edges ... scrappy against a not so quality attack. Dhawan looked the much better opener.

  • Raj12345 on February 6, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    All real facts comes now by writer now. better one this time. :)

  • anuajm on February 6, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    I'll be surprised if this scratchy century leads Vijay to the Indian team. He'll easily be sorted out by the Aussie bowlers. I'll bet on Sehwag for a couple of matches though not Gambhir who has been woefully out of form in tests. Rahane should be the first choice though i'll be closely monitoring Jaffer. I hope age is not a factor for him, he is good enough to play another 3 years and that is long term for me. No Bhajji also, though he'll rule himself out with his bowling. Nayar might get an opportunity if he bats well..

  • Raj12345 on February 6, 2013, 22:10 GMT

    But how come Dhawan is better in same non quality attack.

    But fact is Dhawan not given enough chances to prove his worth. It is time to bring him to test team along with Vijay. Poor Mukund is sidelined by CSK.

  • TRAM on February 7, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    ok. You guys wanted him to fail. He didn't. Now that he has scored a century you dont know what to write (including the readers' comments). Keep talking about his negatives. Keep bashing...

  • on February 7, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Don't just look at his score. He was beaten by A. Nayar many times and he has hardly improved his technique. Does not fit the bill in any case. But if Mithun keeps getting chances to play in major tournaments, why not Vijay.

  • TRAM on February 7, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    I saw this innings exclusive in youtube. If the same strokes were played by one mr. RSharma, there will be 100 media outlets and commentators praising the same strokes as genius & class. Since it is Vijay, every one will talk about his failures and his weaknesses. As long as this partiality exists, India is not going to see a meritorious team. With the same batting conditions and bowling, Gambhir would have made a 30+ score and gotten out. Sehwag would have scored a single digit score. Thats how bad their form is.

  • Prad81_viji84 on February 7, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    Vijay is a good batsman in sub continental conditions. But what exactly he needs to sort out is pace bowling with both sides movement. Australia are very good mind gamers where they know exactly how to plot out a batsman. Some one of Dravid, Amla, Clarke claibre is obviously out of question to plot out a plan but for Vijay it's going to get very easy to plot out a plan by the Australian bowlers. Therefore we need more batsman who can occupy the crease for a longer time (someone similiar to Pujara)

  • Anand0906 on February 7, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Remember, Test cricket is about consistency and staying at crease for a long time. It is basically about consistency. Vijay in this season has performed miserably. His top score was only 42. You cannot judge a test player by just one innings and that which comes in a batsman friendly pitch. There are players like Nayar, Rohit who have performed exceptionally well in the Ranji season. So, we must not create any fuss over this knock. Let's wait and see his performance in the forthcoming matches and decide.

  • kingcobra85 on February 7, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    They are looking for a opening batsmen the look at the comments is filled with Rahane and Nayar who are middle order batsmen. This is the story of Partial Indian Cricket Follower.