Vihari turns to matting wicket ahead of Australia tour

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari has been impressive in his short international career. File photo: AFP

New Delhi: At a time when his India teammates are gearing up for the glitzy India Premier League (IPL) more than 2,500 miles away from Hyderabad, Hanuma Vihari has his eyes trained on something more challenging -- the marquee tour of Australia.

Vihari is one of the two centrally contracted India players (the other being Cheteshwar Pujara) not part of the IPL this year after being overlooked by the eight franchises.

"It would have been great if I had been a part of IPL but I can't think about it," Vihari, who has 552 runs from nine Tests, told PTI.

With the COVID-19 related restrictions preventing full-fledged training, Vihari is doing his own net sessions with the help of none other than Indian team's fielding coach, R Sridhar, in their hometown.

"Yes, Sridhar sir is helping me in my training and due to lockdown, you don't have grounds open. I am batting on matting wicket during net session," Vihari said.

The primary aim is to get adjusted to the extra bounce on Australian tracks and playing on matting wickets helps as the deliveries have a tendency to rear up awkwardly.

"The grounds are all closed and this is the resource available. The bounce is different and its a challenge," said the 26-year-old, who has an average of 58 plus in first-class cricket in 85 games.

Sridhar, who has watched Vihari from his junior days, is monitoring his training sessions and also giving him throwdowns.

Players from Hyderabad are known to grow up on matting and astro turf wickets.

Mohammed Azharuddin and V V S Laxman played a lot of cricket on artificial turfs during their younger days and their elegant wrist work could be partly attributed to "batting on matting".

Originally, Vihari was supposed to go to England to play in the county championship but he couldn't travel due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown and restrictions.

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