Debutant Hanuma Vihari scored an impressive 56 and put on a vital 77-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja (86 not out) to help India post 292 in their first innings on Sunday. The Andhra Pradesh batsman, who replaced all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the playing eleven in the fifth and final Test at the Oval, said that he was nervous ahead of his maiden innings. A bundle of nerves ahead of his Test debut, Hanuma Vihari said a phone call to Rahul Dravid put his mind at ease and helped him get the maiden fifty that rescued India from a difficult situation against England.
“I called him the day before I made my debut. He spoke to me for a couple of minutes and I thought it eased my nerves a little bit. He is a legend of the game; and his inputs especially in the batting department (helped me),” Vihari said Sunday of the influence of the former captain, who is currently the India A coach.
“He just told me that ‘you have the skill set; you have the mind set and the temperament, just go out there and enjoy yourself’…I would like to give him a lot of credit because my journey with India A was very important for me to come here, his inputs made me a better player.”
Vihari, who has played 63 first-class and 56 List A matches for Andhra Pradesh, also said that he was nervous while facing England fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad in his maiden international appearance.
“Initially I felt the pressure to be honest…But once I got myself in, it eased my nerves and it was an important partnership between Jadeja and me,” he said.
“They are world-class bowlers. They have 990-odd wickets between them. Going out to bat, I just wanted to be positive in my intent. Especially when Virat is there, you just have to be there with him, rotate the strike and try to build a partnership.
Vihari also credited skipper Virat Kohli for guiding him in his Test debut.
“…having Virat at the other made my job a little easier I guess. His inputs helped me initially. He gave me some cues so that I could play it comfortably,” he said.
“I will give a lot of credit to him for helping me out initially. But once I settled down, the wicket was very good to bat on especially with the medium pacers it got a lot slower yesterday,” he added.
After passing the Anderson-Broad examination, Ben Stokes launched a verbal volley at Vihari after he hit the bowler for a six. The debutant said he tried to ignore it and Kohli’s intervention helped.
“Just tried to focus on my own game. He (Kohli) also had a go at him and that’s how the game is played nowadays; that’s how Indian cricket is now. But my aggression is something, which I want to do with the bat,” Vihari said.
“Obviously if its gets personal then I might say something back. But as long as it’s healthy then everyone likes to have some banter in the cricket field,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)