Hanuma Vihari, the next VVS Laxman?

An elegant batsman, Hanuma Vihari, climbed up the ranks at a very early age. He scored heavily for the South Zone and eventually got picked in the U-19 side in 2012. He got the platform he wished of and India won that World Cup under the leadership of Unmukt Chand. Although Vihari did not have his dream form in the tournament, he caught everyone’s attention in the circuit. That’s one of the reasons, he got fast-tracked into the IPL 2013.

Vihari did not have power-hitting abilities, but still, everyone was in awe after watching his graceful strokes. He made an impression in his second IPL game itself. On a slowish track where batsmen like Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara struggled, Vihari made a mark and took his team to the very end. The game was tied and SRH won the game in the super over. Vihari was named the Man of the Match and everyone including Sangakkara and Dale Steyn was in praise of Vihari.

Hanuma Vihari (Image credit: IPLT20 | Instagram)

Young kid coming in, playing his first IPL, I thought the batting the way he did was unbelievable.

Kumar Sangakkara

Moreover, he contributed with the ball as well. He got the big fish, Chris Gayle, for a golden duck. Vihari couldn’t make a mark in the rest of the tournament but he did showcase his talent. Moreover, working with skipper Sangakkara and coach Tom Moody helped him grow as an individual.

Vihari trusted his potential and backed his strength. He didn’t try too many things and kept it simple. Vihari worked hard on his skill set as he knew his perfect skills will help him move forward. He consistently gave impactful performances in first-class cricket. His first-class stats depict some crazy numbers. Scoring over 7000 runs with an average of 58 inclusive of 21 centuries and 36 half-centuries, he has a fantastic record in first-class cricket. It was pretty evident that these numbers are more than enough to get a national call-up.

Debut against England:

Vihari debuted mid-series at The Oval and immediately left an impression with a well-made fifty.

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Remember, he batted number 6 back then. But later, to settle the batting combination, he had to open the innings in Australia. Although he didn’t score many runs, he did handle the new ball with a lot of grit. He spent enough time in the middle in the 3rd Test playing 66 balls.

Good tour of West Indies:

Everyone talked about his flamboyancy, but not to forget he was yet to prove it. He maintained his composure and scored his maiden Test century against a fearsome bowling attack of West Indies on an absurd wicket. He scored 111(225) inclusive of 16 boundaries.

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The Indian team management including Virat Kohli were in all praises of him.

In fact, Virat Kohli in a recent chat with Steve Smith expressed it as well.

The one guy that I’m really looking forward to seeing bat is Hanuma Vihari. I think he’s quite a solid player, quite exciting.

Virat Kohli

The Similarities with VVS Laxman:

There are a couple of similarities between Hanuma Vihari and VVS Laxman.

  • Both hail from Andhra Pradesh and both have played extensively for the Hyderabad team (Vihari’s current team is Andhra as he left Hyderabad) in domestic cricket.
  • Both of them debuted as middle-order batsmen for India. But later, the two were pushed up the order. Both have often been shuffled up and down the order.
  • Both have majorly played only the longest format of the game.
  • Vihari and Laxman have similar technique. The pair like the on-side quite a bit.
  • Also, both play the classic style of cricket with proper technique without going for unconventional shots.
Hanuma Vihari being patted by his senior Hyderabad pro VVS Laxman during a Ranji Trophy match at Hyderabad in 2011. DC File Photo

VVS Laxman and Hanuma Vihari for Hyderabad (Image Source: Deccan Chronicle)

VVS Laxman changed the dynamics and perspective of the game after scoring one of the finest innings in Test cricket. He has saved many games for India.

Vihari has looked solid in the pink ball practice game (in December 2020) against Australia A. His strokes were praiseworthy. Let’s hope Vihari, with so many similarities with Laxman, does equally or close to what Laxman did for the Indian team. There surely are big boots to fill, but it isn’t an impossible task!

Featured Image: BCCI |Twitter

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