Murali Vijay became the first India opener to score a Test century at the Wankhede stadium for 14 years, and then described his stubborn 136 as a very emotional innings.
Murali Vijay set the platform for India’s strong response to England’s first innings 400 with a 107–run second wicket partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara overnight. After Pujara was out in the first over of the morning, he joined skipper Virat Kohli to raise 116 runs for the third wicket.
Vijay hardly put a foot wrong on way to his eighth century of his career (136: 10 fours, 3 sixes).
The Tamil Nadu batsman became the first Indian opener to score a hundred at Wankhede Stadium in 14 years. The last Indian opener to score a hundred here was Virender Sehwag, who made 147 in the first innings against West Indies in 2002. Overall, Murali Vijay’s 136 was just the seventh hundred by an India opener in 25 Tests at this venue. The other five hundreds were all by Sunil Gavaskar.
Vijay dedicated the knock to his close friend’s father, who died on the first day of the Test. “I just want to dedicate this hundred to him and his family. They were really a big support to me when I was growing up. I couldn’t be there in his last moments,” he told bcci.tv.
Overnight 70 not out, Vijay was unfazed by the dismissal of Pujara off the second delivery of the day. Initially, he was content to play second fiddle to Kohli, but pounced on the opportunity whenever the England bowlers erred.
For periods of dour defending, Vijay can really give the ball a whack. Vijay’s first boundary hit of the morning was a glorious straight six off Moeen Ali, his third of the innings. Then, he creamed a four through the covers off Ben Stokes to march into the nineties. Vijay completed his hundred with a single to backward point off Moeen Ali.
“Actually my game plan is to attack the spinners because I don’t want them to settle in one particular area where they find it comfortable. I just wanted to use my feet and use the depth of the crease and play according to my game plan and it came out pretty well I guess,” said Vijay.
Vijay was out after lunch for 136, caught and bowled by leg-spinner Adil Rashid. He drove a fuller length delivery back to bowler, power in the stroke missing as he failed to middle the ball.
The feature of the Indian opener’s innings was how he responded to the challenge of playing the short ball, for which he had received criticism in the last two Tests.
“I did think about it (getting out to the short ball) because I was playing at the balls I should be leaving generally and there are lot of other factors to it. I don’t want to reveal them. But yes the definite game-plan is to back my core game, believe in it and come back fresh and in play this Test match the way I wanted to play.”
He said: “I would like to rate this hundred highly because I started off well in this series but couldn’t do well in couple of matches,” he said, having scored only 66 runs in the previous five innings before the Mumbai Test.
“I couldn’t play the way I wanted to, I was getting out too early. Here, I came out in a much clearer mindset.”