While the four-match Test series on the challenging Australian soil is going to start on this Thursday (December 6), the Indian Test opener Murali Vijay will start to revive his career.
Since the fall of Virender Sehwag-Gautam Gambhir’s era as the opening partner, the right-handed batsman Vijay slowly but steadily fixed his place as a Test opening batsman of the Indian cricket team. The 34-year-old has played 59 Tests where he has scored 3,933 runs (average 39.33) with the help of 12 centuries and 15 half-centuries and his best knock is 167 against Australia at Hyderabad (Deccan) in March 2013.
Though Vijay made his international cricket debut in 2008 through the Test cricket, he had been generally included in the squad during his initial days as the third opener. In 2010, he earned a good opportunity as he played seven Tests in that year but had the average performances (376 runs scored in 11 innings with the average of 34.18, including one century and one half-century) that made his international career tougher.
In next year, Vijay played only three Tests and disappointed with the batting performances as he scored a total of 72 runs in six innings with the average of 12.00. He didn’t get an opportunity in the next year.
But Vijay got a big opportunity in 2013 when the opening partner Sehwag and Gambhir both faced the sharp fall that led their international career to the end path. This time Vijay grabbed that golden opportunity and since then he evolved himself as an important member of the Indian cricket team in the Test format.
Even in the last year, he had the impressive Test performances. In 2017, Vijay scored 520 runs in 10 innings (three centuries and one half-century) with the average of 52.00, which is his best average in a calendar year during his Test career.
However, everything has changed in this year. Apart from scoring a century (105) against the debutant Afghanistan cricket team in this June, Vijay failed to play any 50+ knocks in this calendar year. Playing 11 innings (6 Tests) in this year, Vijay has scored 233 runs with the average of 21.18, his lowest yearly average since 2013.
The situation went worst during the England tour in this August-September, where he was dropped out from the playing XI after the second Test of that five-match series and since then Vijay didn’t play any other Test match.
However, since he was dropped out from the national squad, Vijay worked hard and re-structured his career by featuring in the English County Cricket. Playing for Essex, he scored 56, 100, 85, 80 and 2 respectively. But still, he missed the two-match home Test series against Windies.
But Vijay hasn’t waited too long as he is most likely to return in the Test squad during the first Test of the four-match series in the ongoing Australia tour, starting on December 6 at Adelaide. While the young Prithvi Shaw’s injury has opened a big opportunity for him to return in the playing XI in the Adelaide Test, scoring a century during the four-day warm game against Cricket Australia XI (CA XI) has sealed it.
Now, the 34-year-old right-handed batsman needs to utilise this chance powerfully, because it might be his final opportunity. In Australia, Vijay has played four Tests (8 innings) where he has scored 482 runs (one century and four half-centuries) with the average of 60.25. The whole nation will now focus on his game as he is an important player to create the history in the ongoing tour.