24-year-old Hanuma Vihari received his maiden Test call-up after being included in the India squad for the last two Tests against England at Southampton and Oval. Vihari’s red-hot form and ability to bat at the crucial No.3 presumably worked in his selection. While he has been included more as a middle-order reinforcement, the right-hander is excited with the opportunity and stated that he is looking to make most of the chances he gets. Vihari also reckoned that the tours to South Africa and England helped him to develop his game and maintained that scoring runs for the ‘A’ side is necessary to get selected for the national side. Ahead of 2016/17 season, the youngster took a big decision to switch his base from Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh, the state where he was born. But speaking to BCCI TV he said that decision was taken as he wanted to be an India player and not just a Ranji Trophy player.
“Going to South Africa on my first tour and playing in those conditions helped me a lot. I knew what was coming after that. I knew I had to perform a lot after that. I also knew I had to perform well in the domestic season to get back in the frame and prove in India A level. To play for India you have to play well in the A team, there is no other choice,” Vihari said in a candid chat on BCCI tv.
“Its tough to get into the Indian side but once you get into the side but once you get in you must make sure to grab that opportunity and make it count,” he added.
Having hit 148 against South Africa A in Alur earlier this month, Vihari is in a good frame of mind. Crediting coach Rahul Dravid for his valuable advice he also revealed that former India batsman VVS Laxman has also had a big influence in his career. “Coming from Hyderabad, VVS Laxman has been an inspiration. He is a legend. I was fortunate to play a few games with him. In SRH he was my mentor and therein he told me to trust my game, gave me a lot of freedom and be in a good space of mind,” Vihari recalled.
So far in 63 matches, Vihari has scored 5142 runs at an average of 59.79. But for him playing according to the situation of the game is the focus. “It is more the situation that matters to me. not strike rate. Sometimes you have to grind for the team. So if you have the ability to bat in different situations only then can you perform at the highest level,” Vihari said.
Additionally, Vihari captains Andhra in the Ranji Trophy. But switching teams from Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh was not an easy decision. “I knew I was taking a big gamble as it is not easy to change your home state and play for another state. You have to perform twice the rate at which you performing before. I took up the challenge to be an India player and not a Ranji Trophy player. I am glad I took the decisions,” Vihari remarked.