Hanuma Vihari's Test debut for India was an instant hit after he notched his maiden half-century against England in the final Test of the five-match series. Despite once again succumbing to a series loss on English soil, it gave India an option of an all-rounder in red ball cricket.
Vihari was called for last two Tests against England along with Prithvi Shaw and it was the former who was given the chance in the final Test when he came in place of Hardik Pandya, where he proved his metal despite all the odds stacked against India.
In an Exclusive interview with IndiaTV, all-rounder Vihari discusses what it was like scoring a Test fifty on his debut, against a team like England in their yard.
"It actually went well, got a fifty on my first innings, got three wickets as well, I'm happy. We can score runs in England, as you saw, the batting performance improved, Jadeja and I put up a partnership as well, before that it was me and Virat's partnership and in the second innings we put up a good fightback. We had the belief that we could score runs," Vihari told IndiaTV.
India lost yet another series in England, now making it three in a row, but the all-rounder felt that there are plenty of positives to take out from the series loss. On being called for a dead rubber, Vihari did make the most of the time while he was out there. He also became the 26th Indian to score a fifty on his Test debut.
"After the series loss, we felt like we had nothing to lose, the batsmen were fearless, I feel that if we had that mentality right from the start of the series, the result could have been quite different. We have to play fearlessly."
Before going on to score his maiden Test fifty on his debut, Vihari spoke about what captain Virat Kohli told him at the time, which immediately motivated him to score.
"It was during the innings when Virat was in the non-striker's end, he told me to play like you do in first-class cricket, play your own game, play fearlessly and try to spend time in the crease. It really motivated me to hang on and play more."
"The innings is special because it was way different than first-class cricket. Getting to face the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad in an overcast condition, it was a challenge but when I came out of it, my confidence grew."
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Vihari was taken into consideration after his rich performances in first-class cricket and he had made an impact when India A played in England.
"I was ready for the call as I played for India A against England. I just wanted to prove myself whenever the opportunity arises, give my all in my performances."
"The pressure was immense. When I went in to bat, my focus was on the ball and I knew that once I got set, I could play long innings. I was disappointed when I got out, I knew I could score more. If one wants to play for India, they need to score big."
Vihari had scored 56 in the first innings, but was dismissed for a duck in the second. He also has three Test wickets to his name and big ones as he dismissed Alastair Cook after he scored his final Test century, Joe Root and Sam Curran.
His gutsy performance in England did not go unnoticed as he has been named in the Test squad against West Indies.
Discussing what his plan is for the Caribbean side, Vihari will stick to his natural game. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, cause it ruins my game. Be it any international team, I'll play the way I want to and will contribute whenever I have the opportunity. Our home record is good and we will try to dominate against Windies."
The Andhra all-rounder has been selected for the 15-man Test squad against West Indies and it will be Kohli who resumes his role as captain. India are slated to play two Test against the Windies, which commences from October 4 in Rajkot.
(As told to IndiaTV Sports Correspondent Vaibhav Bhola)