Murali Vijay © Getty Images
Murali Vijay completed 2,000 Test runs on his way to 144 at The Gabba on Day One of the second Test © Getty Images

Murali Vijay slammed his fifth Test century against Australia at Brisbane on Wednesday to put India in reasonable control on Day One. While his century was much-awaited given his current form, there is a lot to be noticed about the batsman who continues to make heaps of runs against the Australians, says Devarchit Varma.

Murali Vijay had a long beard a few days back. It has now been trimmed into a handlebar moustache. It seems almost fashionable for cricketers to grow the ’stache and back them with splendid performances. Mitchell Johnson did it last season. He intimidated England and ran riot through their ranks. The tourists were left battered and completely ruined. This season he may not have done the same so far with this year’s touring party, but there is one Indian who is trying to replicate Johnson’s performance, though with the bat.

Vijay is yet to fail on the tour. The innings of 144 at The Gabba on Wednesday is his highest score on tour and fifth consecutive score in excess of 50. He scored half-centuries in the two warm-up games as well and was definitely unlucky to have missed out on a deserving century in the fourth innings at Adelaide Oval, where he batted like a dream.

Vijay has been immensely successful in Australia majorly because he has been watching the ball really, really well, and this is one thing which his teammates must learn to thrive in challenging situations. The same quality helped him to get some big scores in England as well. On Day One, Vijay faced 213 deliveries to score 144, of which he did not score off as many as 154 balls, which means, the 144 runs came from only 59 balls. Out of 33 fours hit by India on Day One, Vijay smashed a 22.

As Vijay flourished on the Gabba wicket on Day One, the people on the internet quipped that the heat would certainly be giving Vijay an impression that he is batting in hot and humid Chennai — his comfort zone. But The Gabba is no Chepauk. It may have been hot on Wednesday, it may have troubled many of the Australian cricketers, but it was different. The wicket had the bounce, it supported the pace bowlers. To be able to bat for so many hours under the scorching sun is certainly superlative, but to be able to execute that with a monk-like concentration, diligence and precision is something that can be seen in Vijay.

Vijay completed 2,000 Test runs on his way to 144. During the landmark, Vijay also took his average to 69.71, which is the highest among all who have scored 750 or more against Australia.

There is a thing among Indian cricketers: some of the fiercest characters love to excel against Australia. Yuvraj Singh’s uproar after win in the ICC World Cup 2011 quarter-final was also because it came against Australia, knocking them out of the tournament. VVS Laxman’s best always came against Australia.

Vijay belongs to the same league. Out of the five Test hundreds so far, four have come against Australia. These have not just been usual three-figure marks; he has gone on to score even big hundreds. The 139 at Bangalore in 2010-11, the 167 and 153 in 2012-13, and the 144 at Brisbane prove that Vijay loves the challenge; though from the outset it may not look like it, Vijay is certainly enjoying this purple patch quietly.

Vijay has provided India a strong platform for a big first innings total, and it will be a shame if India squander it with a poor batting display on the second day, or their bowlers making it all even.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)