CHENNAI: When the India-Australia series begins in Pune on February 23, do keep an eye out for a mini subplot between David Warner and Murali Vijay. It may not be advertised as a clash to watch out for, but these two are so vital to the team’s fortunes. Since January 1, 2015, Warner has faced 2567 balls (fourth highest in the metric) in 44 innings. Murali Vijay? Eighth best, with 2280 balls in 26 innings.
While the TN man announced himself with classy centuries in the last home series against Australia, Warner used those four matches as a learning experience. Since then, his willow-wielding has been on a different level. Third overall in runs scored (3998 at 53.30). While Vijay, who spoke to reporters after the South Zone T20 tournament, did not namecheck Warner, he was at the forefront of his mind. “You got to take into consideration where you are playing,” the 32-year-old said. “In Australia, you play on bouncy wickets where there are more opportunities to hit boundaries.”
He was referring to Warner’s astonishing last 12-18 months. But India, he opined, would be a different challenge. “There will be more turners and that presents different challenges.”
Last time the Aussies were here, they were crushed 4-0. Vijay said the team is looking strong to inflict a similar blow again. “Australia are a top side and they play a great brand of cricket but our approach will always be that (4-0 win),” Vijay said.
They have loaded their side with spinners but Vijay said the team would just concentrate on doing their job. “Obviously, they are trying to plan for the tour. What we have to do is concentrate on our game. The past year and a half have been great and I hope we can be consistent in all departments. If we get that right, we can dominate.”
Dominating the opposition is a theme the Indian side has been familiar with and the main man behind it has been Virat Kohli, who has been impervious. What’s it like to watch Kohli, the batsman? He “inspires people (with his batting),” is Vijay’s take. “He’s someone who is very consistent and has a brilliant gameplan. What he does is that he sets an example and raises the bar for us every time.”
There was a time last year when openers in the team pulled a hammy, hurt a shin or tweaked a muscle every other day and Vijay too wasn’t immune from the disease. He hopes that phase is over. “Yes, I am 100% fit (smiles). I was going through a phase where I had a couple of injuries and that gave people opportunities to talk.”
Going forward, he hopes that is an issue of the past.