All, India Test middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari had hoped was to utilise the summers of 2020 by playing English County cricket after being snubbed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auctions.
However, the coronavirus pandemic , which has claimed more than 22,000 lives and has forced all sports to be either suspended or postponed, has crushed his hopes.
The English Cricket Board (ECB) has postponed all cricket in England and Wales and the fate of the English County cricket is uncertain.
English fans, cricketers and officials would want to begin the cricket season by end of May or first week of June. However, at the present it is uncertain as to when will cricket and other sports would actually resume.
Hanuma Vihari Yet To Finalise The County Deal
Hanuma Vihari’s participation in the English County cricket is yet to be finalised as he awaits the signing of the deal due to coronavirus pandemic. The talented batsman said that he was supposed to play four English County games this season.
“I was supposed to play four English County games this season. I would only be able to tell you the name [of the team] when all the paperwork is complete. Right now, it’s on hold due to the unavoidable situation (COVID-19),” Vihari was quoted as saying by PTI a few days back.
English County An Opportunity For The Player
Vihari is a solid batsman; offers a certain sense of authority and calmness to the Indian middle order in the tests.
Although not a regular at home, when it comes to overseas assignments, he is a given at number six. For him, English County cricket will be a crucial stint, if he gets the opportunity.
The Indian batsman has been decent in overseas conditions for the side. He made his debut in England in 2018 and notched 552 runs in nine games at an average of just under 37.
Notably, he has played all his Tests abroad. Vihari has four half-centuries and a ton in total for India overseas. A player, who generally is suited to be a shield for India overseas, needs the testing conditions English County has to offer.
When you look at his Test debut in England in 2018, he got a score of 56 on debut against a formidable bowling attack. Playing in English conditions, which helps the ball to swing and seam, will help him improve as a batsman and a player.
More exposure to swing and seam, will only better his approach against solid pace-bowling attacks.
Of late, Player like Ishant Sharma has benefited largely from his experience in County. In the past, players like R Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara played the Country cricket, which has been a crucial experience to their kitty. Having said that, Vihari deserves a chance to showcase what he can offer.
Vihari Would Want To Move On From NZ Series
In New Zealand, Vihari got scores of 7, 15, 55 and 9. Team India struggled as a side in against the New Zealand bowling attack and went on to lose the Tests 2-0.
The series which was part of the ICC World Test Championship, saw Team India lose for the first time in the competition. The major plus for Vihari in New Zealand would have been the gritty 55, which must have done wonders for him in adding another feather in his overseas cap.
With the next Test series lined up against Australia in 2020-21, Vihari has his work cut out. He needs to make the chances count and score against a top notch pace-bowling unit which boasts of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
If India are to do well in the Test Championship and qualify for the final, then Vihari’s would have to play a major role Down Under slated for later this year. The last series India played Down Under, they won 2-1.
Vihari played three Tests and showed his resolve and character. He got battling scores of 20, 28, 8, 13 and 42. The experience gained from that tour, besides what he will get in English County, will do him plenty of good this time around.
Hanuma Has The Desire To Stick And Fight
In his short career for Team India, he has batted at numerous positions and has displayed his determination to stay on the crease and fight. He is a real solid character, with the sense of the Test cricket.
His best moment came in West Indies, in the two-match Test series. He got scores of 32, 93, 111 and 3*. That series highlighted his desire to bat long and strong. In the first Test, Vihari stitched an 83-run partnership with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. The stand was built over 123 deliveries.
And then in the second innings, it was the same partnership that helped India gain a hold. Vihari and Rahane scored a century-plus stand (135 off 226 balls).
In the second Test, he shared a crucial century-plus stand with Ishant Sharma to help India get past 400. And then another constructive stand with Rahane in the second innings helped India gain authority.
Summing up, Hanuma Vihari is someone whose simplicity will take India to greater heights. He is like a silent worker, who can assure the side of his rich presence and technicalities.