Former India off-spinner, Pragyan Ojha believes that Hanuma Vihari’s place is not yet assured in the eleven, and thus the right-hander should maximise his opportunities in the forthcoming Test series against Australia. After getting dismissed cheaply thrice, Vihari notched a hundred in the second practice game against Australia A.
However, Pragyan Ojha explains that Vihari can be ousted anytime from the team owing to the team combination and balance. The spinner opined that as Vihari only plays Test matches for India, every game in Australia is important for him.
Ojha understands that Vihari did score a decent hundred in the practice game, but he will be up against the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood- which is an altogether different challenge.
Speaking to Sports Today, Pragyan Ojha said, “Hanuma Vihari, this boy doesn’t feature in IPL, doesn’t feature in limited-overs for the national side. Being a Test specialist at the starting point of his career, it has both advantages and disadvantages.
“I feel this series is very important for Vihari. India will not have Virat Kohli, those are big shoes to be filled. Vihari got a brilliant hundred (pink-ball warm-up). But it is not going to be easy, especially in the pink-ball Test. He has to perform consistently well to survive there.”
Vihari is someone like VVS Laxman: Pragyan Ojha
The left-arm off-spinner likened Vihari to former legend, VVS Laxman as both play a similar role in the Test team. Ojha pointed out that since the 27-year-old doesn’t play in white-ball matches for India, it is vital for him to score runs in the Test matches to survive his international career.
The 34-year-old asserts his statements on the fact that India plays with more than one spinner in home conditions, and if and when Hardik Pandya is fit enough to bowl, the all-rounder will walk straight into the eleven, and Vihari would have to face the ax.
Pragyan Ojha continued, “He is someone like VVS Laxman, I would say. He has to consistently perform to be in the reckoning because he is not a regular in the limited-overs format. It’s become important for him to deliver in every game he plays. At home conditions, it becomes difficult for him to play because India plays an extra spinner. And if Hardik Pandya starts bowling, he straightaway walks in.
The cricketer-turned-commentator feels that the Hyderabad batsman does a thankless job for the team in whites, however, if the unit doesn’t do well, and if he isn’t amongst runs even for a few innings, Vihari will be the first one to be dropped.
“It’s a very thankless job. A young boy like Hanuma Vihari, if he is getting runs he will be picked, but if he doesn’t get runs or the team doesn’t do well, the first one who will be on the line will be Hanuma Vihari,” Pragyan Ojha concluded.
Vihari has played 9 Test matches and averaged 34, he scored a hundred in the West Indies last year. On the previous tour to Australia, when the first-choice openers were horribly out of form, he was asked to open with debutant Mayank Agarwal at the MCG.
With his 66-ball innings against a hostile Aussie pace attack, the right-hander proved his temperament as he bunted out the new ball threat which made life easier for the next batsmen. Once again, he would have a huge responsibility when Virat Kohli leaves the series after the day-night Test in Adelaide, which commences on 17th December. He also provides a part-time off-spin option.