Mumbai: Take captaincy responsibility immediately after you change state team from Hyderabad to Andhra, stay strong after IPL snub, witness your Under-19 teammates, the ones that won the World Cup in 2012 in Australia, leapfrog you to join senior teams but amidst all this, put your head down and never stop scoring runs; so many runs that you get an India call-up to join Virat Kohli and the others in England for the last two Tests of the five-match series. For some, it’s a movie script, for the 24-year-old Hanuma Vihari, it’s his cricket journey.
“It’s a surreal feeling. I have been working so hard. I am really glad the call came up. I really want to do well,” he said shortly after the news of his national selection broke on Wednesday.
Hanuma has the highest average of 59.79 amongst the current lot of First Class batsmen across the globe, better than Kohli, Steve Smith, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma amongst many others. He has been one of India’s best batsmen, alongside Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal, during the India A tour of England recently.
He has been scoring heavily in the domestic circuits – 752 runs at an average of 94 across six matches in Ranji Trophy 2017-18, including a triple hundred and then a 183-run knock in the Irani Cup, playing for Rest of India against Vidarbha in March this year. So, the national call-up was around the corner.
Rahul Dravid was the coach of the India A side that recently toured England and played against England A and West Indies A. Asked how his experience playing under Dravid’s guidance was, Hanuma said, “He was very helpful as a coach when (I was) in England. He has been a real inspiration to the side, he gave us a lot of hope and helped us a lot.”
While he is confident following his solid show for India A in England, scoring 253 runs in three innings in the one-day tri-series, including a knock of 147 runs, he understands the fact that the Test cricket is a different challenge.
“I have done well (during India A tour) and carry a lot of confidence. But it (Test cricket) is a different ball game. So, I look to go there and get acclimatised,” said Hanuma.
While he may have to wait to get his India cap as the Indian middle order has finally fired and led the team to a 203-run win in the third Test against England, for the Andhra cricketer, who has never shied away from a challenge his dream is just a step away now....