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Vijay on a sticky wicket

cricket Updated: Nov 30, 2010 00:11 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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The top three in the India ODI line-up is a difficult place to get in and easy to get out of. Ask Shikhar Dhawan: one failure opening the innings against Australia in October this year and he was shown the door.

The situation is understandable because in a full-strength XI, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir occupy the positions and each of them is capable of opening the innings. And if the selectors ever need a replacement, they don't need to look beyond Virat Kohli at No. 3.

That leaves M Vijay batting on a sticky wicket because he is yet to reach 30 in the six One-day Internationals he has played since his debut against South Africa in February this year, averaging just 19.16.

The right-hander has all the attributes of a good batsman: solid defence, lots of attacking shots, including a beautiful cover drive, and the temperament to play a long innings.

Vijay's Test record has been improving steadily and he got his maiden century against Australia earlier this season when Gambhir was injured. He remains very much a part of India's plans for the longer version and will be travelling to South Africa as a reserve opener who can be slotted in at No. 3 if required.

The 26-year-old also appeared to have cracked the Twenty20 riddle in the middle of the third edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), playing some breathtaking knocks full of clean hits, mostly straight down the ground.

But will Vijay be in the selectors' 50-over plans? Former India batsman WV Raman, who coached Vijay's state side Tamil Nadu till last season, believes the opener has to be more patient.

"Vijay needs to take a leaf out of Sehwag's book. Sehwag has realised that he just needs to bat for 20-30 overs and the runs will come," Raman said.

"At the moment, I get the feeling Vijay is trying to surpass himself. He probably thinks he needs to get off to flyer and keep scoring at the same pace."