April 01, 1984, Chennai
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
M Vijay brings, along with his bat, pads and gloves, an invisible switch to the crease. When that switch is flicked on, given certain conditions, he can be one of the more pleasing sights in present-day cricket; when it is not, he can scratch and struggle on the flattest of pitches. He prefers to play off the front foot, which can bring his downfall, but it also produces some sensational hits down the ground, including the trademark pick-up shot over wide long-on.
In his first few seasons of first-class cricket, Vijay became famous for converting starts into huge scores. One of those big scores came in a 462-run opening stand with Abhinav Mukund, which earned him a Test call-up in 2008-09 as replacement for Gautam Gambhir, who was serving a one-match ban for an on-field altercation. The Test opportunities remained limited, but the IPL provided him with another sphere of influence.
However, the IPL also coincided with the drying up of huge scores. He kept scoring big in crucial IPL matches, but it seemed to have taken patience out of his game. There was a period of about four years during which he scored as many first-class centuries as in Twenty20s: two. It didn't help that he failed in the only full series he got as a Test opener, in the West Indies in 2011.
When Vijay was finally given another full Test series, against Australia in 2012-13, it was a selectorial punt based more on potential than runs in domestic cricket. Vijay turned the punt into a jackpot, scoring back-to-back 150s, impressing with his improved back-foot play and the ability to buckle down and play time. The efforts against Australia took his tally of 150-plus scores to seven out of 13 first-class hundreds, and earned him an ODI recall for the 2013 Champions Trophy in England - though a poor run in the warm-up games meant he did not make the playing eleven in the tournament.
He soon became India's first-choice opener during the Tests in Australia in 2014-15, emerging as India's second-highest run-scorer behind only Virat Kohli. Vijay had brought about subtle changes to his batting and reaped benefits on the tour. He, however, didn't make it to the squad for the 2015 World Cup.
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