Hanuma Vihari was picked up by Delhi Capitals with a hefty paycheck of Rs 2 crore in the 2019 IPL auction.
Hanuma Vihari was picked up by Delhi Capitals with a hefty paycheck of Rs 2 crore in the 2019 IPL auction.

Despite all his exploits in the domestic circuit and various India representative teams, Hanuma Vihari was never able grab the attention of the IPL scouts. For someone who was always talked about among the brightest young cricketers in India, Vihari has just two IPL seasons to his name so far – 2013 and 2015. (ALSO READ: Hanuma Vihari becomes first batsman to complete hat-trick of hundreds)

But his toil in the domestic circuit gradually earned him an international call-up which, breaking the norm of recent years, lead to a hefty paycheck of Rs 2 crore in the 2019 IPL auction. (ALSO READ: Hanuma Vihari, a middle-order stylist thrust into opener’s role)

Now, on the back two overseas tours for India, the 25-year-old is gearing up for IPL 2019 with Delhi Capitals, and he sees it as an opportunity to showcase his talent. And playing after three years – that too with the expectation of the price tag – isn’t bothering him either.  (ALSO READ: IPL releases schedule for first two weeks, CSK to face RCB in opener

“I don’t feel any pressure at all, it’s an opportunity for me to showcase my talent and what I have become as a cricketer in these three years,” Vihari tells CricketCountry.com.   

“My only goal is to contribute in a winning cause for Delhi Capitals. Of course, as a team our ultimate dream is to win the trophy,” he says about the team, who are starting afresh this year with a new name and new approach.

Vihari is looking forward to playing under the young leadership of Shreyas Iyer and learn from an experienced coach in Ricky Ponting. “We have a great mix of Indian and foreign players, and I’m really looking forward to playing under Shreyas and Ricky’s leadership,” says Vihari, who has scored 280 runs in 22 matches in the IPL, playing all his matches for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Even though Vihari was DC’s first buy at the auction, and the first player overall to be sold as well, that doesn’t guarantee him an automatic slot in the playing XI; as DC boast of a gun batting line-up in Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Iyer, Rishabh Pant and T20 heavyweights, South Africa’s Colin Ingram and New Zealand’s Colin Munro.

Vihari too concedes it is a tricky proposition, but he is ready to bat anywhere and adds that he is fully prepared after waiting for three years.

“It really depends on the management – when and where they want me to bat, as an opener or a finisher,” he says, adding, “But I am fully ready and prepared for everything. I’ve waited for three years, and I’m mentally in a great space at the moment.”

Vihari goes on to say that this new-found confidence is due to his long-awaited India debut. Since returning from Australia, Vihari has scored a 92 against England Lions in List A and slammed two centuries in the Irani Cup.

“With the India debut having happened, a lot of pressure is off my shoulders. I’d been waiting for it for really long. Now that the monkey is off my back, I can play more freely, and express myself better,” says Vihari, who became only the second player in Indian domestic history to hit twin centuries in one Irani Cup match.

He also concedes the fact that a good IPL season will open up opportunities in India’s limited-overs squads as well.

“Absolutely. Whether it’s ODIs or T20s, this is where so many India players come up from. You maybe playing a lot of domestic, a lot of List A games, but there are only so many people following that, whereas the IPL is a tournament where the whole world watches you. I’ve got this opportunity after 3 years, and want to grab it with both hands,” he adds.