Indian Test opener Murali Vijay wasted another glorious chance to show his mettle outside the subcontinent. After struggling immensely in South Africa earlier this year, the 34-year-old failed to have any say in the first two Tests against England in the ongoing 5-match India- England Test Series.
This forced the management to drop him for the 3rd Test, before he was axed from the squad altogether.
Notably, his disastrous tour included a pair of ducks at Lord’s.
India welcomed Shikhar Dhawan back in the line-up at Nottingham. The southpaw got some decent runs and is assured to keep his place alongside KL Rahul for some time now. What the selectors did next was drop Vijay from the side completely and give Prithvi Shaw a chance to fit in.
Confidence looked deep down and that hampered him consistently. What India is looking at is someone who can chip in outside Asia especially with series against Australia and New Zealand next.
Here we analyze Vijay’s situation at the moment.
Vijay’s composure missing
It has been a tumultuous few weeks for the opener who arrived on English shores as the most established of the three opening batsmen in the Indian squad. But the batsman himself is to be blamed for his fate after going the ambitious way in changing his technique prior to South Africa tour.
That has been his downfall in recent times. He scored emphatically earlier in England and Australia with the old technique. He used to leave the balls outside the off-stump and was solid when the ball came in. But, against the Proteas, that assurance was missing as Vijay succumbed to one low score after another.
He wanted to be more aggressive with his off-stump guard, but against the seaming ball, he struggled. In 2014, he had an excellent tour of England and his patience was a key aspect. From there on he became a vital cog of India’s Test squad.
But this year hasn’t gone as planned for the senior batsman.
Lackluster performances outside home a concern
Vijay was in superb touch in 2017 and amassed three tons at home. He also struck a century against Afghanistan this year. That he has been axed from the squad might seem harsh but his performances away from India have been on the down. The opener’s last half-century away from home came all the way back in August 2015 during India’s tour of Sri Lanka.
Since then everywhere India have travelled, Vijay has been a constant let down.
With him being unable to replicate the form shown at home, the management had to take a stern decision and offload the player. Vijay’s runs dried in overseas conditions and the poor performances have raised questions about his abilities.
By dropping him, the selectors have sent a message that they are looking for players, who can deliver outside home on a regular basis against top opposition.
Selection of Shaw signals a direction India is going
The selectors went with 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw for the remaining two Tests against England. Shaw has been in prime form with the bat for India A recently. He is young and talented and the management has taken a decision keeping the future in mind.
Shaw may be inexperienced, but India wants to give him the time to prosper and learn the trades of the game. Perhaps his style and intent could help him get ready for crucial tours upfront when needed. The management isn’t afraid to try out young guns and shape them for the future.
Perhaps, we will see more such instances in coming time. Shaw could now be the third opening option and that spells trouble for Vijay.
What holds for Vijay in Tests?
Shaw’s inclusion somewhat is the final nail in the coffin for the veteran opening batsman, At 34, he is in the twilight of his career. And the future doesn’t look bright for him. Vijay has a slim chance of making a comeback. Or it could be none at all.
The only hope is that he has to get runs in domestic cricket and wait patiently for a chance of being in the reckoning of the selectors. India plays against West Indies at home next before the tour of Australia in 2018-19. Given his latest show in South Africa and England, it is highly unlikely that he is going to be on the plane to Australia.
With quality seam attack waiting for India there, the think tank will likely be bold with their decision and go with a much more expressive unit.
For now, Vijay’s career seems almost over.