Making it to the national side in Indian cricket is every cricketer's ultimate dream that they want to live when they grow up. But what if you make it big, perform and yet are uncertain about your spot? Well, that's been the case with Hanuma Vihari and the team management should have some clarity.
Test cricket is one of the most important formats of the game even today as it is the base on which all other formats are based. The history of cricket begins with this format and purists who love the sport still hail it as the best. In Indian cricket, many stalwarts of the game have done exceptionally well and left behind a great legacy that the country can be proud of. Even modern-day greats like Virat Kohli have also talked about the importance of Test cricket.
In India, the competition to reach the top of the mountain that is playing for the Indian team is a dream for every young cricketer. But the competition is extremely tough as you need to be on top of your game throughout your domestic career and need to have outstanding numbers at the domestic level to make sure you get a chance to play for the Indian team. Even in the modern-day era, players like Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have done exceptionally well at the domestic level which is why they got a chance to represent the country in Test cricket. The three batters have done amazingly well in the longest format of the game consistently which is why many other batters have had to wait for their turn to don the white jersey for India.
But, one such player who the team management showed faith in and got him in the team alongside the trio was Hanuma Vihari. The right-handed batter has scored 7,837 runs in 101 first-class matches and averages a staggering 55.58. This is the body of work that Vihari has behind him that helped him get into the Indian team. He made his debut for the national side against hosts England back in 2018 and scored an important fifty on his debut under challenging conditions. This was proof that the young batter had it in him to make it big at the highest level.
Hanuma Vihari was the designated sixth batter in the team whenever India was touring abroad. The team management went to him whenever they thought that they wanted to play an extra batter in the side. Batting well in South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand also known as the "SENA" countries is not easy, especially in testing conditions. But, Vihari found a way to do it every time he was given a chance.
Since making his debut back in 2018, the batter played 15 Test matches which is quite surprising given the fact that he averages 35.13 so far with 808 runs. Hanuma Vihari has been overlooked several times when the Indian team plays a Test series on home soil. The only time he got to play Test matches in India was when Sri Lanka toured India earlier this year and the team management had dropped Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane from the squad.
Following this, Cheteshwar Pujara went to play county cricket and batted masterfully in the month of May which is considered to be one of the most challenging months for batters because of the conditions. The selectors took note of his performances in England and decided to bring him back for the series against England. This makes things dicey for Hanuma Vihari once again as like always the batter is once again competing for a spot in the playing XI and Shreyas Iyer might be the batter who is preferred over him. After Vihari's heroics in Australia, he only got to play a Test match almost a year later when the team went to South Africa. Even though, Pujara and Rahane were not at their best with the bat. So that's the kind of challenge that Vihari has to face.
While I don't mind Shreyas Iyer on the side but the fact remains that his technical deficiencies against the short-ball have been exposed time and again. Iyer in England that too against a quality pace attack can have a lot of problems and they will be accentuated if the conditions are overcast and bowling friendly.
This brings me back to the question of why Hanuma Vihari is constantly overlooked and given chances in a very inconsistent manner even though he has time and again proved what an asset he is to the team. The selectors and the team management should have the clarity to Hanuma Vihari and should be given a consistent run in the side without him having to worry about his spot within the team.
In my opinion, Hanuma Vihari should be given a consistent run with the team irrespective of the fact which team is India playing against and where. He has done well and cannot be overlooked in this format of the game especially when he has rarely not performed whenever given the opportunity.
I understand that the Indian team has a lot of players who are doing well at the domestic level and even within the team the management and selectors have a huge talent pool to choose from. But what is also important is the fact to show continuity in the selection processes as this will help players understand their role and also give someone like a Hanuma Vihari clarity about what he needs to do in the chances that he gets in the upcoming games.