Hanuma Vihari on Friday (February 14) made it clear that he is willing to bat any position for Team India during the two-match Test series against New Zealand, starting February 21 in Wellington.
Vihari’s comments came after India’s designated openers Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill were dismissed early against New Zealand XI attack on the opening day of the three-day practice match in Hamilton.
Coming in at No. 6, Vihari scored a hundred versus the Kiwi XI and the right-hander is now mentally ready to take up the opener’s role if the team management asks him to.
"As a player, I am prepared to bat anywhere. As of now, I've not been informed anything. As I said before as well, if the team requires me to bat wherever, I am ready to bat," Vihari, who retired after scoring 101, quoted as saying by PTI.
The Andhra batter had played a key role in India’s first-ever Test series victory Down Under in 2018-19. In a bid to solve India’s opening woes, Vihari was sent up the order to face the fearsome Aussie pace attack. He impressed one and all by seeing off the new ball at a jam-packed Melbourne Cricket Ground on the Boxing Day.
Hanuma Vihari was also the highest run-getter in West Indies tour last year and scored his maiden century (111) in Kingston to script India’s 2-0 series victory. Despite showing amazing consistency, he got an opportunity to play only one Test during the home season against South Africa and Bangladesh.
"Sometimes you have to understand the team combination as well. You can't get disheartened by it. I understood when you are playing at home, we play five bowlers. It's obvious that one batter has to miss out. So I took it in my stride. I don't want to prove anything to anyone but just follow the process," Vihari said.
The 26-year-old is pleased to have countered the extra bounce in the warm-up game which provided him with an opportunity to prepare well. He added 195 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara (93) after none of the other batsmen crossed the 20-run mark.
"Initially, I thought the extra bounce surprised us. (In) the couple of matches I played against New Zealand A, the pitch didn't do as much as what it did in the morning today.
"Once we adjusted, me and Puji (Pujara's nickname), we got our eye in, then we knew we had to bat long and that's exactly what we did," Vihari said after the end of day's play.
(With PTI inputs)