Hanuma Vihari, who scored a gritty hundred in the ongoing three-day practice game against New Zealand XI, on Friday said he is ready to bat anywhere for India in the upcoming two-match Test series starting February 21.
Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw, who are expected to fight it out for the opener’s slot in the first Test against the Black Caps, came out with disappointing performances as they were out for a duck each on the opening day of the warm-up game.
With Rohit Sharma out injured, Mayank Agarwal, who also failed with the bat, will have a new partner against the Black Caps.
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Coming in at No. 6, Vihari scored a hundred and alongwith Cheteshwar Pujara, shared a 195-run stand for the sixth wicket and took India out of troubled waters, who at one stage were struggling at 38/4.
“As a player, I am prepared to bat anywhere. As of now, I have not been informed anything. As I said before as well, if the team requires me to bat wherever, I am ready to bat,” said Vihari, who retired after scoring 101.
“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,” said Vihari on the challenging wicket on offer.
“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.
“Maybe we will get pitches like these because New Zealand’s strength is their fast bowling. They have a very experienced bowling attack but it’s good that we got some time in the middle and we experienced these conditions.
“They were tough and it’s good to experience tough conditions before the series and we’re happy with the way the day went,” he said.
The Kiwis have the likes of Neil Wagner, Trent Boult and Matt Henry in their arsenal and pose a huge challenge on pace-friendly pitches.
About the wicket, Vihari said: “This wicket had extra bounce, more than what I’ve experienced in New Zealand before. So I took some time to adjust and I knew what shots I had to avoid early on this wicket, maybe horizontal shots, I tried to avoid that,” he explained.
Vihari fell down the pecking order in the home series after India’s series-opener against South Africa at Visakhapatnam last year despite getting runs in the West Indies. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was picked ahead of him as India went with a player with added bowling skills on home conditions where they usually fire on all cylinders.
“Sometimes you have to understand the team combination as well. You can’t get disheartened by it,” said Vihari of his snub.
“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 added.