Pragyan Ojha has stated that Hanuma Vihari is similar to VVS Laxman in term of being a Test specialist for India and added that this series would be crucial in terms of Vihari establishing himself. While adding that Vihari does a thankless job, Ojha spoke about the quandary of playing him at home.
While Hanuma Vihari has racked up an immaculate amount of runs on the domestic circuit, his performance would always be graded by the way he scores for India in his tricky middle-order position. Sandwiched between the last recognized batsman and Ajinkya Rahane, Vihari’s role often dangles between taking India to a safe total and providing India with a platform with some much-needed acceleration.
With the right-handed all-rounder not playing any other format, his performance in the Indian whites is microscopic to its core. Despite getting good starts against New Zealand in the Test series earlier, Vihari has never seized his opportunity to put on a ‘daddy’ hundred, something that would establish his presence in the team. Former Indian spinner Pragyan Ojha noted that Vihari is similar to Laxman in terms of being a Test specialist.
"He is someone like VVS Laxman, I would say. Every game Laxman played used to be p[ay was a very important game for himself because he was a Test specialist. 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,” Ojha told SportsTak.
"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.”
However, Ojha admitted the hard truth that finding a place for Vihari in the Indian playing XI would be a tough task at home, especially with the ploy of playing two spinners. He also added that it is a ‘thankless’ job for Vihari, as he would be the first name to get the boot in case the team fails.
"At home conditions, it becomes difficult for him to play because India play an extra spinner. And if Hardik Pandya starts bowling, he straightaway walks in. 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."