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  5. India vs West Indies: Hanuma Vihari hopes to get better at off-spin with tips from R Ashwin

India vs West Indies: Hanuma Vihari hopes to get better at off-spin with tips from R Ashwin

Hanuma Vihari was picked ahead of Rohit Sharma as the sixth batsman in the first Test against West Indies and scored a composed 93 in the second innings.

India TV Sports Desk India TV Sports Desk
Antigua Published on: August 26, 2019 16:07 IST
India vs West Indies
Image Source : BCCI

Hanuma Vihari hopes to get better at off-spin with tips from R Ashwin

Hanuma Vihari impressed everyone with his batting during the first Test against West Indies with a composed 93 in the second innings of the match as India won the game by a mammoth margin of 318 runs.

But, Vihari is not content and wants to contribute more to the team via his bowling. 

He was picked as the sixth batsman over Rohit Sharma as he provides an all-round option with the ball, that allows India to play just one spinner in Ravindra Jadeja and go with an extra batter.

And, Vihari, therefore, wants to improve his skillset and come in handy with ball in hand.

"It is very important that my off-spin keeps developing not only for myself but also for the team. I fit into the team because of the combination that I can be the fifth bowler," Vihari said at the post-match press conference. 

"I want to keep improving and keep getting better at it. So hopefully, I will get in more overs and it will help the team better," he added.

The Andhra batsman is also hoping for some help from senior pro Ravichandran Ashwin to improve his ability with the ball.

"(I feel) fortunate enough to get help from one of the best spinners in Indian cricket history. It's nice sharing the dressing room with him and talking to him about off-spin bowling," Vihari said. 

For Vihari, adjusting to the nature of the surface and conditions became easier as he had led India A against the West Indies A in three unofficial 'Tests', scoring a hundred and two half-centuries. 

"...I knew how the wicket will play," the 25-year-old stated.

He was asked to open the innings against Australia Down Under and now is back to playing in the middle-order. But Vihari is comfortable in any role that team management asks him to perform.

"I don't think about all those (juggling batting order) things. If the team wants to play a certain combination, we respect that and go out there and give our best.

 
"Sometimes they choose a combination according to the wickets, sometimes it is according to the opposition. So, our only focus is whenever we are on the ground, how well we can perform for the team," he made it clear.

It, however, does help that the team management has a lot of faith in his abilities. 

"If the team management shows trust in you, it gives one freedom to express himself. We had a good foundation especially with the start we got, especially how Virat (Kohli) and Ajinkya (Rahane) played in the last session yesterday, it gave me confidence to express myself and that's what I did," he added. 

He was thankful to senior partner Rahane for his constant guidance during their 125-run stand. 

"He was helping me out with how the bowlers were bowling and how the wicket was like so that I could plan my innings. Because he batted for a long time in the first innings as well and was already set when I came into bat.

"He is also very calm at the crease and somehow I had that calmness while having a partnership with him."

Vihari missed out on his maiden hundred by only seven runs but wasn't disappointed considering that his contribution in the team's victory was a significant one.

"We had a plan of batting one hour after lunch. So I thought that if I could accelerate (post lunch) at the start, I can get closer to my hundred. That was exactly what (accelerate) I was trying to do in that (Jason) Holder over. 

"I was trying to take my time and get close to the hundred but I am happy that I contributed to the team's success and that day will come when I will cross the three-figure mark," he exuded confidence.

He rated Jasprit Bumrah's spell before the tea on fourth day as the best he has seen him bowl especially after he looked rusty in the first innings. 

"He wasn't happy with his bowling in the first innings as he thought it wasn't up to his standards. In the second innings, he was quite fired up. 

"It was obvious that he was struggling to get his rhythm in the first innings. But once he got his rhythm in the second innings, he was back to his best. That spell (before tea) was one of the best that I have seen him bowl," he concluded.

(With inputs from PTI)

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