NEW DELHI: Hanuma Vihari wanted to utilise the summer months playing county cricket in England but the COVID-19 pandemic has put paid to the India all-rounder's plans for the time being.
Slowly becoming a key member of the Indian Test side, the 26-year-old wants to hone his skills with a prominent county side but now the deal will be inked when the situation comes under control and travel bans are lifted globally.
"I was supposed to play four English county games this season. I would only be able to tell you the name when all the paperwork is complete. Right now, it's on hold due to the unavoidable situation (COVID-19)," Vihari told PTI during an exclusive interaction.
The Andhra man is confident that he will be able to travel to the UK during the later part of the county season which is played from April to September. "Hope once it's under control, I will be able to play those games. It will be a learning experience for me," said the soft spoken Vihari.
The BCCI, in recent years, has allowed top cricketers who are not playing in the IPL to compete in county cricket during the summer months. The likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane are some of the prominent Test specialists who have plied their trade in division 1 and 2 of English county.
Vihari's commitment to the game can be gauged from the fact that he played for his employers Nelson CC in the Tamil Nadu CA league on Tuesday. He scored 202 not out against Alwarpet CC in a drawn game. "I work for Nelson and I am committed to play when I am available. It was good match practice. Now I am back in Hyderabad. I will be taking a break for the time being," he informed.
Talking about his 55 off 70 balls against New Zealand on a green top at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, the gutsy right-hander was a touch disappointed. "I wouldn't call it my best innings. Yes, I was playing well but that innings didn't get a victory for my team. It was good to score runs in tough conditions but you value it more when the team wins," he said.
Vihari, who made his debut in England, has a decent Test record of 552 runs in nine games with an average of just under 37. Incidentally, he has eight of his nine Tests abroad. "I have the self belief and the team believes that I have the technique to get success in overseas conditions," he said.
So, what has been the key to his four half centuries and a century in countries like England, West Indies, New Zealand? "Adaptability. I believe I have been able to adapt well in all conditions and I have confidence that I can perform any role that the team assigns me," he said.
India will be playing nine Test matches (four away against Australia and five at home against England) between November 2020 and February 2021. "I am sure that I will get a chance to play in home conditions as well. My job is to work hard and be prepared for any situation," he said.
With no cricketing activity right now due to COVID-19, Vihari, like all other sportspersons, is at home but will follow the routine given by Team India's strength and conditioning coach Nick Webb. "We all have individual training chart during off time. I will try and follow that," he said.