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London: July 19, 2014
Thus far, the batting success of this summer’s India’s tour of England has been the Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay. The cause of this is his decision to be cautious and watchful and to go about the business of scoring runs more sedately than before. Vijay’s switch from a previously faster to a slower run rate was first displayed in South Africa over the winter. In three overseas series prior to this, he failed to make an impact, namely in Sri Lanka in 2010, South Africa in 2010-11 and the West Indies in 2011. In his highest knocks of 58, 18 and 45 in such series respectively, his corresponding strike rates were 46.77, 45.23 and 57.69.
By comparison, South Africa last winter represented a metamorphosis. In his top score of 97 there – in course of which he gave a first indication of possessing the mettle for the highest level of the game – his strike rate dropped to 42.92. It has fallen further in the current series, wherein he has scored his first century abroad. In this innings, 146 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, last week – his strike rate was a mere 40.44. He had clearly completed the transformation from giving vent to his natural instinct to restraining it for the sake of success.
A conspicuous feature of his batting presently is his ability to leave the ball outside the off-stump. While in so doing he’s piled up the dot balls, at the same time he has avoided the hazard edging to the wicketkeeper or the slips. Yet, when he played shots, he’s done so with aplomb, thereby demonstrating he hasn’t lost any of his repertoire. He has, however, refused to hook. Needless to mention, Vijay’s sheet-anchor approach has injected stability to the Indian batting in circumstances of the more fancied Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, particularly the latter, not yet realising their potential.
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