HYDERABAD: When KL Rahul was bowled by a searing delivery from Bangladesh pacer Taskin Ahmed in the first over of the Test, a few thousand Indian faces in the stadium turned pale. The onus was on Murali Vijay to steady the ship. In partnership with No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, Vijay did exactly that during the course of a stand of 178.
The ship did not only sail, it sped and gathered momentum as Vijay reached his ninth Test hundred a few minutes into the third session.
Looking back, the right-handed batsman from Tamil Nadu had a mixed outing against the visiting England side last year. Although he scored two centuries in the five-match series, six other innings did not produce a 50, not even a 40. He announced intent in the first session itself when a good length delivery was punched off the backfoot for a boundary. Asked about areas he had concentrated on after the series against England, the 32-year-old said, “I just wanted to be sure about which delivery to leave and which one to have a go at. Now, I am confident about myself and hope to carry on like this.”
The opener seemed to have relished the partnership with Pujara, who achieved a rare feat on Thursday. His 83 took him past the national record for the most number of runs scored in a first-class cricket season held by former India player Chandu Borde. Pujara has 1605 runs to his credit. “I was not aware of the record. This shows what it takes to be a great player. He is a solid batsman and makes things very easy for me while batting,” Vijay said.
Even though he got an early breakthrough, Taskin could not really trouble the star-studded batting line-up and accepted that bowling consistently well is the only option against a team like India. “You cannot afford to lose line and length against a side like this. You have pitch the bowl consistently in right areas,” the fast bowler said.