What came as a surprise was the inclusion of Hanuma Vihari who is now the first player from Andhra Pradesh in 19 years to get a call for the Test side.
Before the national selection committee sat down on Wednesday evening to select the Indian Test team for the final two matches against England, there was a buzz that some big changes could be on cards. That proved right when the selectors announced that experienced opener Murali Vijay will be replaced by Mumbai’s 17-year-old sensation Prithvi Shaw while Andhra Pradesh’s 24-year-old middle order batsman Hanuma Vihari will take the place of Kuldeep Yadav.
Shaw’s inclusion was expected by many given his exploits in the Indian Premier League and India A tour of England last month. But, what came as a surprise was the inclusion of Hanuma Vihari who is now the first player from Andhra Pradesh in 19 years to get a call for the Test side. In what comes as a coincidence, the last player to represent India in white clothes from the state was chief national selector MSK Prasad.
A player with solid technique, Vihari was part of the World Cup-winning India Under-19 squad in 2012. His performances had also earned Vihari a contract with Hyderabad in IPL but few mediocre performances meant that he hasn’t been a part of the league since 2015.
However, Vihari’s outstanding form in domestic cricket was the reason behind his call-up. The right-hander has an impressive average of 59.45 which is also the highest first-class average across the world right now. It is even more than the first class average of Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
He had a great season with the bat scoring 752 runs at an average of 94.00 in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy. The season marked Vihari’s maiden triple-century in a league match against Odisha and the cherry on top was his brilliant 183 from 327 balls against Vidarbha in the Irani Cup.
He continued his form for India A and scored 148 against South Africa A in Bengaluru. This was his second century, apart from two half-centuries, in his last five first-class innings.
He was also one of the four players to be selected for both the 50-overs and four-day squads for India A’s tour of England. Vihari finished the tri-series with 253 runs in three innings including a 147 against West Indies A.