Murali Vijay has been one of the surprise packages of the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Tasked with the added responsibility of captaincy midway into the tournament, the 32-year-old turned out to be the most low-profile captain of any side in the league.
The circumstances were lot different. He wasn’t unveiled at a grand event like leaders of other franchises. His appointment was more forced than expected. Faced with a spate of losses under the leadership of David Miller, Kings XI were forced to replace him with Vijay.
The India opener did not seem out of place. Despite the many foreign stars in the squad, he remained in control. Kings XI might not have gone on a winning streak but they did put up a fight, which was largely missing with Miller at the helm.
On Saturday, they will face the Rising Pune Supergiants, the winners will walk away knowing that they did not finish at the bottom of the table, if that is any consolation.
Kings XI will once again look towards their skipper to show the way.
So far this season, Vijay has led by example. He is the side’s highest scorer. Unfortunately, not much support has come his way from his teammates, but Vijay’s individual performance cannot be discarded.
It was in June 2015 that Vijay last played for India in a limited overs tournament. He was part of the side led by Ajinkya Rahane that toured Zimbabwe. Since then, his appearance in the India side has been restricted to Tests.
His performance so far though does warrant a look in as India have a list of full series ahead in the second half of the year. Vijay has now scored 394 runs this season that includes four half centuries.
His fighting 89 against Royal Challengers Bangalore was the highlight of the campaign. The knock was undone as his teammates failed to provide support. Bangalore edged past by one-run.
He followed the knock with an unbeaten half-century and led the side to victory over Mumbai Indians. The KXIP skipper remains a first choice for the openers slot in the Test side, but has yet not quite found preference for a slot in the limited overs side.
India tour Zimbabwe for three ODIs and two T20Is next and like last year it provides a perfect platform for the Tamil Nadu batsman.
It is common practice for the national selectors to send a second string side to the African nation. A chance there could provide him with an opportunity to further stake his claim for a regular spot in the limited overs side.