Friday, December 4, 2009

Vijay arrives on the big stage

CHENNAI:Spare a thought for this boy! On any other day, M Vijay could so easily have been the man of the moment, but when Virender Sehwag decides to go mad, there isn't much one can do.

Yet, in the one chance he has got since his India debut a year ago, the Tamil Nadu opener has proved that he is cut out for the big stage.

Vijay didn't put a foot wrong in his 121-ball 87 and even though he was a forgotten man by the end of the day, even Sehwag would acknowledge that his younger partner did help him in making things easier before lunch.

"I was timing the ball well. It felt good to help the team get off to a good start," Vijay was modest in his assessment of his day's performance. What he didn't say was the preparation that had gone into it.

The entire Indian team took a couple of days' break after India won in Kanpur, but not Vijay. He knew this was his chance and he was off to Mumbai, working out with coach Gary Kirsten so that Team India doesn't feel the absence of the prolific Gautam Gambhir.

"It's this determination of his that sets him apart. He knows it's a lose-lose situation for him, even if he performs he won't play the next Test, yet Vijay is so single-minded," his Tamil Nadu coach and mentor WV Raman told the TOI.

Ravi Shastri, too, praised Vijay for his mental strength and felt that the way he batted on the day, the team management could easily think of him in the middle-order in the near future when there's a vacancy. Raman, though, doesn't feel the opener should think on those lines.

He himself suffered in his playing days, shuffling positions and doesn't want the same thing being repeated.

"All these years, he has worked hard to become a specialist opener. Now, he shouldn't change position just to find a way in the Indian team. It may click for some players, but often it doesn't... If he asks me, I would tell him to continue as an opener," Raman said, adding that if he doesn't get to play for India as an opener on a regular basis, "it's his bad luck".

The coach has seen Vijay from close quarters in the last one year, the youngster travelling with the Indian team one day, only to get dropped the other day. Was there ever a sense of frustration creeping in? "There's no point being frustrated if you are trying to make your way into a team like this. I never saw him morally down," Raman added.

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