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Chennai: M. Vijay remembered the moment he was handed the India cap by Sourav Ganguly. India had won the toss at Nagpur and soon the team gathered for a quiet ceremony in the dressing room.
It was the beginning of a journey for Vijay. For Ganguly, the fourth Test against Australia marked the last stop in a rewarding career.
“Ganguly wished me luck, the team applauded and it was an unbelievable feeling. It was an honour, wearing the India cap,” Vijay told The Hindu here on Friday.Distinct impression
Vijay was back in Chennai after vacating his spot for Sachin Tendulkar in the India ODI squad. The 24-year-old batsman made a distinct impression with his efforts of 33 and 41. He displayed a compact technique and the heart for a hard job.
There were things said to him by the Aussies but Vijay was not distracted. “Each time something was said to me, I would smile back at them. They were aggressive and it was an intense Test match. I had to keep my focus.”Credit to Sehwag
Vijay had walked into the Test eleven, on an SOS, straight out of the Tamil Nadu-Maharashtra Ranji Trophy match at Nashik. To his credit, he made the transition mentally.
Vijay’s partnerships of 98 and 116 with Virender Sehwag provided India a solid platform in both the innings. He credits Sehwag for calming his nerves.
“Sehwag told me not to allow the pressure of the occasion to get to me. He told me to play my natural game.”
Sehwag played his strokes and Vijay held firm. India’s latest opening pair was in business.
“It was a good batting track but Mitchell Johnson, in particular, bowled well. He was sharp and moved the ball,” said Vijay.
He admitted he should have gone on to bigger scores after being set.
“Looking back, I should have got a hundred. But I remember Sehwag patting me as I walked back in the first innings. I didn’t realise it then but saw it in the video later. It was a touching gesture.”
Vijay’s contribution to India’s win did not end with his batting efforts. He ran out Matthew Hayden — a direct hit from mid-on — and Michael Hussey — a reflex throw to the ’keeper from silly point — at crucial junctures of the match. “The dismissal of Hussey was particularly satisfying. He was looking good at that point,” recalled Vijay.Precise footwork
The opener from Tamil Nadu would please the purists with his precise bat swing, feet movement and balance. Vijay, however, does not intend to become obsessed with technique. “I want to bat in a manner that is natural to me. I don’t want my mind to be cluttered with too many things,” he said.
Vijay thanked the TNCA, Tamil Nadu coach W.V. Raman, Bharath Reddy, Abdul Jabbar and D. Vasu for their role in him becoming an India cricketer.
The path ahead can be demanding but the opener is on the ball.
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