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Battle for India’s middle order is on

india Updated: Apr 05, 2010 00:03 IST

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Murali Vijay has been a most unexpected hero. Somehow, there didn't appear any connect between Twenty20 and this stylish and classy Chennai opener. Now he has the highest score by an Indian in this format and just six short of most maximum hits in an innings. It's a measure of how the art of batting has evolved in recent years, more so with the advent of Twenty20 format.

There wasn't an Indian hundred in the first season; second season saw Manish Pandey make the cut and now Yusuf Pathan and Murali Vijay have added to the list. Why, Naman Ojha missed his ton by not much in that record chase against Chennai Super Kings. And we still are at the half-way stage. A double century in ODIs wouldn't be such a rarity now. Still, Vijay's feat deserves a closer look. In his five Tests, Vijay has only one half century and a scoring rate of 55.45. Mostly he has got in when one of the regulars batsman have been missing.

He has mostly hit along the ground as his solitary six in Tests reveal. His only ODI also didn't offer any significant insight-nor did the first two seasons of IPL. Now he has taken everyone by surprise. Yet there is a consistency in how he makes everyone revise their opinion on him. He has shown he can hold one end up and if required, can conjure up an avalanche of sixes. He is special.

His preferred hitting area is onside, the arc between square leg and long-on. Most Indians develop strong wrists for on slow home pitches, where the ball doesn't come on to the bat, you can only force it by whipping across the line. On faster wickets you develop your offside strokeplay and on slower wickets the onside area is a time-tested logic.

Who knows, Vijay could have been on the plane to the Caribbean had he played this knock in time for selection. So the battle for India's middle order is now in earnest. Rohit Sharmas, Suresh Rainas and even Yuvraj Singhs have challenge shaping up from the likes of Murali Vijay, Sourabh Tewary, Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa. It suggests a powerful future where no team would be safe with any total. Heady days indeed are ahead of India's T20 mission.