Hanuma Vihari opens up about the strategy he and Ravichandran Ashwin adopted, and executed very well, in their epic match-saving partnership in the third Test of the recently concluded victorious Border-Gavaskar series at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Vihari may not have played the fourth Test, he may have scored just 45 runs in the first two Tests; but what he and Ashwin did in the third Test against a world-class Australian bowling attack have etched them in the folklore forever.
Vihari, who pulled his hamstring early in his innings, and Ashwin, who couldn’t sit due to severe back pain, batted and batted for over 250 balls in the fourth innings in Sydney to avoid a loss. Vihari says that he decided to bat despite having a torn hamstring to repay the faith that the management showed in him.
“I told myself that I have 20 minutes to Tea and I will just bat it out and then see what happens. Then I did that, I went into the dressing room. They gave me a pain-killer injection,” Hanuma Vihari told Sports Today,
“Then a few of the support staff came and told me ‘you owe the team for the belief they have shown in you’. Obviously, in the first 2 games, I didn’t do anything big. But it was time for me to give it back to the team in some sorts.”
The goal was to bat 6 balls and take a break for 6 balls: Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari reveals that he and R Ashwin decided to play out over after over instead of thinking of the big picture. Since Vihari had a torn hamstring that would hinder his feet movement to Nathan Lyon, the batting pair devised a strategy that Ashwin will play Lyon, and Vihari will blunt out the pacers.
The duo deployed this tactic for over a session and made a memorable save in Sydney. Riding on the confidence, the Indian team breached the ‘Fortress Gabba’ in the fourth Test and won the Test series for the consecutive time in Australia.
“I had clarity. Even Ash helped me. He said that would take it 1 over at a time. ‘Let’s take it as deep as possible and see where it goes’. Pain was there when I was batting but my only goal was to bat 6 balls and take a break for 6 balls,” Vihari added.
“I told Ash that I was not able to stretch out for Nathan Lyon. I told him ‘you play Nathan Lyon, then I will play the fast bowlers’. I was batting 6 balls, he was really composed and he was able to see off Lyon. We took it one over at a time and we made the impossible possible, I guess. That’s how I batted through pain for 4 hours,” the right-hander further said.