I was prepared to step up: Vihari

I was prepared to step up: Vihari

SURPRISE WEAPON India's Hanuma Vihari (centre) celebrates the dismissal of Australia's batsman Shaun Marsh on Friday. AFP

Hanuma Vihari is only three-innings old in his Test career and he already has top five-order batsmen in his kitty. What’s so remarkable, one might ask but the fact is he is a part-time off-spinner who has largely bowled in domestic limited-overs matches.

In his debut Test at the Oval, he took the wickets of Joe Root, Alastair Cook and Sam Curran and on Friday here, the Andhra cricketer dismissed a well-set Marcus Harris and Shaun Marsh to help India keep Australia in check on the opening day of the second Test. He dismissed Harris with a “bouncer” and lured Marsh doom by forcing him to cut close to his body.

“The answer for the day would be no,” said Vihari when asked if he has ever taken a wicket with a bouncer. “I was lucky enough to get that extra bounce. It was an important wicket at that stage. He (Harris) was set and looking dangerous after lunch. I was trying to bowl my best for the team,” he said.

The two breakthroughs came in his second and third spells after his first of the 14 overs for the day went for nine runs. His second spell lasted two overs when he scalped Harris and then came back to bowl an 11-over spell, the first time the 25-year-old has ever bowled such a lengthy spell in his first-class career.

“I knew I would have to step up if required,” he said when asked if he thought he would end up bowling so many overs at the start of the day when India had packed their 11 with four pacers. “Overall I was prepared for that. I was happy I could do a job for the team. I have done a bit of bowling, even in the Ranji Trophy level but more in limited overs. I know the idea of where I can make the batsmen play. I try to play with the fields I have. I want to keep it simple and try to do the job. I know my role very well in the team. I try to keep it tight. If the wickets come, it is a bonus. My job is to make the batsman play a loose shot for his runs,” he offered.

Vihari said India’s bowling attack had done well on the opening day. “Our only plan was to be disciplined. I think we did very well in that aspect. In all three sessions, we bounced back really well. We had so many plays and misses. It happens in a game but overall we put in a good effort.”

Real grind

Australia opener Aaron Finch, who batted well for his 50, felt the match was going to be “real grind” for both teams and offered his wisdom on how to cope with the pitch.  

“The position we're in we would have taken at the start of the day, no doubt, especially winning the toss and batting. When the ball starts seaming off good parts of the wicket and quite dramatically at times, I think that's when you know you need to tighten up but you also have to be in a position to cash in on some balls that you can hit, otherwise you get stuck on the crease, stuck in two minds and end up letting the wicket get you out without the wicket doing anything. So, you have to be really proactive and take that out of play as much as you can,” he observed.