5 things you need to know about Hanuma Vihari
After England defeated India in the fourth Test, the series was already out of hand. It was a good time to give a few players an opportunity to prove their mettle in the fifth Test. Although India lost the fifth Test as well in heartbreaking fashion, there was one player who caught the eye of everyone, Hanuma Vihari.
A right-handed batsman and an occasional right arm off break bowler from Andhra Pradesh had a good debut for India. He scored 56 off 124 balls in the first innings, showing great character along with Ravindra Jadeja, who scored 86 to ensure that India reached a decent total of 292 in the first innings. In fact, both Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari did well with both the bat and ball.
The duo came to India's rescue in the first innings with the bat and then bowled exceptionally well, picking up three wickets each in the second innings. It was the 24-year-old Hanuma Vihari, who got rid of the well-set Alastair Cook (who scored 147 in his last Test match) and Joe Root (who scored 125) in the second innings.
The talented youngster became only the 26th Indian to score 50 in his debut Test match. Prior to his first team call-up, Vihari was part of India A which was coached by Rahul Dravid. Giving 'The Wall' credit for his half-century and easing his nerves before making the debut, Hanuma had said:
"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."
In the first innings, Vihari was given only one over to bowl. However, it was him who sent Cook and Root to the dressing room off two consecutive deliveries in the second innings. If he was given a chance to prove his mettle with the ball in the first innings as well, it could have changed the entire course of the match. The youngster proved that he is not only dangerous with the bat but also can provide breakthroughs at crucial junctures in a match.
The right-handed batsman also becomes the first Andhra Pradesh player to be selected in the Test squad in 19 years.
Here are the 5 things you should know about him:
#1 Vihari has a Nickname which goes well with his personality
Like Chiku for Kohli, Mahi for Dhoni, Jaddu & Sir for Jadeja, there is a nickname for Vihari as well. Gade Hanuma Vihari is called as Kanna by his relatives and teammates. Kanna means masculine and attentive, and it also refers to the pet name of Tamil God ‘Kiruttinan'.
The coincidence is that the two references gel well with his personality. Vihari is always attentive while batting and keeps a keen eye on the ball right until the last moment. Similarly, he has his masculine game bang on with the unkempt stubble and strong build.
#2 Excellent record in first-class cricket, has played in the IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad
In first-class cricket, Hanuma Vihari is a part of the Andhra Pradesh team and has always performed well. In the Ranji trophy 2017-18, he was the leading run scorer for Andhra, scoring 752 runs in just 10 innings, and was fifth on the list of top scorers in the tournament. The youngster also hit a triple-century in that tournament against Odisha.
The right hand-bat was also part of Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL in 2013 and 2015 but his run in the league has been forgettable. Vihari failed to make an impact in both the seasons.
The last season's Ranji Trophy was most definitively the turning point in his life as he was called to be a part of the senior team for the last two England Tests and finally got his opportunity in the last one. Prithvi Shaw also got the call-up for the final two Tests but it was Hanuma Vihari, who was the surprise call-up as he was an unknown commodity to many.
His current first-class batting average of 59.45 even surpasses those of Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.
#3 Lost his father at an early age, mother gave him all the support
Vihari lost his father at a very young age and it was his mother who supported him by earning money through her garments business. She ran a store for Women's clothes in Hyderabad and ensured Vihari had all the necessary equipment for playing cricket.
Hanuma too did not let his mother's efforts and sacrifices go to waste as he made his first-class debut when he was just 17.
#4 Was Part of ICC 2012 U-19 World Cup winning team India
Vihari was part of the Indian side which lifted the U-19 World Cup in 2012 under the leadership of Unmukt Chand. The World Cup was held in Australia but Vihari could never really get going in the tournament. He just did not find his rhythm and managed only 71 runs in six matches.
#5 Rahul Dravid is his mentor
Rahul Dravid polished Vihari at a time when he was struggling with failures in the IPL and U-19 World Cup. The legendary Indian batsman groomed him and worked on his batting. Vihari gained the much needed boost of confidence under Dravid's mentorship and came up with strong performances in the Ranji Trophy as well as the Tri-series between India A, England Lions and West Indies A. His recent knock of 148 against the South Africa A remains one of his finest of all time and showed glimpses of a future superstar.