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What is Murali Vijay?

by Gaurav Sethi

Weren’t you surprised: when Vijay scored those two hundreds in one series? With Vijay’s on-drive of Steyn in the first over?  When he lasted 69 minutes on the first day?

I couldn’t believe he left ball-after-ball-after-ball, it was like watching Rohit vs. Steyn in a one-dayer.

But Vijay, after Ishant, is possibly India’s least liked cricketer. Before Jadeja became Sir, he sat with them too, as did Rohit.

All three cricketers have had their share of chances, and some of Manoj Tiwary’s too, as also Saha’s.

Why do the selectors pick Vijay? Why are we so sure he will fail, that he already has? Vijay for most of his one-day gigs was like an opening act for a band that should have been the opening act.

His one day numbers, and I look at them again, on a gloomy Delhi winter morn, only make it gloomier: His struggles in the format could have freed a nation.

That he played 14 one-dayers is a triumph of human spirit. His average is a tad less than 20, a highest of 33, and brace yourself, a strike rate of 66.40. Vijay is an opener.

Vijay made his ODI debut in Feb 2010, his last match in July 2013, he did not bat, Rohit and Dhawan opened. Of his 14, he’s played 5 at home, 3 of which were against New Zealand. I recall that series, and will abstain from any mention of Vijay’s batting. To do so will only slow both you and me down.

Vijay also played four times against South Africa, dismissed twice each by Tsotsobe and Steyn; and Steyn’s not a bad bowler either.  There were three against Sri Lanka, two against Zimbabwe and one each against Australia and West Indies. 

Of his 253 ODI runs, he has 30 boundaries and the solitary six – that’s about half his runs in boundaries; I did think the percentage would be even higher, but when you look at his scores 25 (5 4s), 11 (1X 4), 14(1X4), 21, 15(3 4s), 29(5 4s), 33 (2 4s), 30 (3 4s, 1 X 6), 1, 16 (3 4s), 1, 30 (2 4s), 27 (5 4s) for a batsman with such a low strike-rate, he does hit an awful lot of boundaries.  So while he faces a three course meal of deliveries, hits plenty of boundaries, his rotation of strike isn’t great.

Vijay tends to get stuck. At the crease. Going nowhere. If you’re not into Beat poets it can be odd.

His magnum opus at the Wanderers is a case in point: 6 runs (1 X 4), 69 minutes, 42 deliveries. In my book, he almost did the job. Now imagine if only he could get a few singles, the odd couple?  He saw the shine off both ball and bowlers – on the first day of the first Test in South Africa.

Murali Vijay, you are an unsung Hero.

But Murali Vijay, you also got all crabby in your shell again, and only you could hear your ocean.

Vijay’s played 19 Tests, scored 1114 runs (138 4s, 9 6s), that’s more than half his runs in boundaries.  In SRT 200, he made 43 (8 4s), his partner, Dhawan 33 (7 4s). It was only in the SRT-Pujara partnership which followed that we got the hang of strike rotation.

Based on a first over fling with Sunny Gupta, Delhi Daredevils, there was a perception that Vijay is a T20 bully. He’s played 7 T20 internationals, strike rates less than a 100 (98.38), average 17.42.

With Dhawan and Rohit tangoing in ODIs and T20s, Vijay’s is becoming more a Test and IPL fixture.  If he can free his mind and feet, he may justify some of the stubbornness of the selectors. If he doesn’t, he will only feed the fire of the fans.

As for all these numbers, they mean little. Careers are known to change after close to 100 one-dayers. Good luck, Vijay. Prove us wrong.

Vijay at lunch, 1st Test, 2nd innings: 12 ( 2 4s), about an hour, 7 from Steyn, 5 from Philander, 2 from Morkel.


Debotosh said...

nice write-up :)

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Arjun Kapoor said...

Vijay (Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar, born on 22 June 1974) is an Indian leading Actor, Playback singer, Producer and Brand Ambassador, and acted in many Tamil films. Vijay initiated his acting career in the main role for the film ‘Naalaya Theerpu’ in 1992. Vijay acted in 53 films as a lead actor, and as guest appearance and other roles in some Tamil movies.

Vijay movies list

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