As India gear up to take on England in the high-octane five-Test series, Murali Vijay is trying to get himself mentally ready for all the challenges as he wishes to script memorable overseas Test victories for the country.
"My frame of mind is to go and contribute for the winning cause. That's how I'm preparing myself for the England series. Every time you travel somewhere else, it's going to be an exciting time for any team. To be honest, the way we've been playing for the last couple of years, it's been a phenomenal brand of cricket. Hopefully, we can continue on those terms and as a team, we can gel together and make this a special series," Vijay told Cricbuzz.
Team India had previously toured England in 2014 and suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat in the five-match Test series despite drawing the first Test in Nottingham and winning the second one at Lord’s. But there seems to be a different vibe around this Indian team as Vijay cited the example of recent South Africa tour.
"I thought we really fought well there, but unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side. If we could have won one of the first couple of Tests, it would've been great. The bowling performance was a great sign for us, and the way the bowlers put their hand up was really great," he remarked.
Murali Vijay was India’s most successful batsman during the 2013-14 tours of South Africa and England. He had toiled hard to take away the shine from the new ball and made life easy for the middle-order batsmen. With 402 runs to his name, Vijay was India’s highest run-getter in the 2014 Pataudi Trophy in England. Moreover, he had also aggregated 400 plus runs in India’s tour Down Under in 2014-2015.
However, something strange happened in South Africa earlier this year. Vijay added a shuffle in his stance that brought him more towards the off-side and he eventually played more deliveries that were outside off stump. The right-hander finished the three-Test series with 102 runs, but the shuffle had disappeared by the last Test.
When asked about this unusual approach, Vijay said: "It was a strategy that I thought will be useful for me. I just tried it out in the middle, it didn't click and I came back to what I knew best. It depends on the situation and conditions, but I feel you've got to keep innovating and find ways to get the better of bowlers.”
"There are a lot of difficulties involved but everything needed to be handled as a professional. I don't really give that much thought to difficulties. I try to find ways in any situation possible - in life, as well as in cricket. I'm a person who likes to go out and express myself. When I'm in that frame of mind, I don't worry about the opponent or wicket of anybody. I just try to improve myself as a person and as a cricketer," he elaborated.
Following the South Africa tour, Vijay had the chance to collaborate with his old friend Michael Hussey at Chennai Super Kings. Although Vijay featured in only one IPL game, he used the time to discuss cricket and fetch knowledge from Hussey.
"Hussey and I have been good friends. Basically, I treat him like my elder brother. He's guiding me whether there is the IPL or without it. We both are quite like-minded people. For me, he's a legend who's done really good for himself in the world of cricket. And I've been a great follower of him since he started his journey in internationals. It's basically about sharing knowledge about the different departments of the game,” Murali Vijay asserted.
"I don't take advice, bro. I just share my experience and talk about cricket. I don't believe in advice and I think everybody has their own way to success. That is what I feel. Before any series for that matter, I don't think too much. Once I get into the groove when I reach a particular place, I start firing up," he added.
For most of the players, preparation for a grueling five-Test series begins some time before the series actually starts. However, Vijay tends to approach it differently.
"Five Tests is a long, long way to go, and hopefully we can focus on the smaller things and work towards a goal. I think we can go to do something special this series. Mental preparation, definitely that's a key aspect. Mentally, you've got to keep upgrading yourself. A lot of factors can be opened up in Test series like this. Actually, I'm properly looking forward to this series, and hopefully, we can pull off something special,” Vijay concluded.