Murali Vijay is one of the finest Test openers that India got in the last decade. The journey of this stylish Indian batsman has been full of dramas, turnarounds, ups, and downs.
He made his debut for India in the Test series against Australia in 2008. However, he didn’t get enough opportunities after that because of the presence of the then established pair of specialists Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag. He made his first century against Australia in Bangalore in 2010 and showed his qualities of patience and temperament. But he failed to take that momentum ahead with his performances and as a result, he was dropped from the national side.
Vijay went back to the domestic cricket and piled up a lot runs. He got another opportunity to show his caliber against Australia in 2013 and he immediately grabbed the valuable chance.
Not just at home, Vijay proved his mettle in overseas conditions too. He was India’s best batsman during 2014-15 abroad tours of South Africa, New Zealand, England, and Australia. His effortless and effective technique, exemplary patience and flawless approach helped him in those away exploits.
Vijay has played many good knocks over the years, and here we take a look at the five most prominent Test innings played by him.
#5 97 vs South Africa, Durban, December 2013
In the 2nd Test match against South Africa at Durban, Vijay played a very composed innings of 97 runs off 226 deliveries including 18 fours. He missed his first Test century there by just 3 runs in front of the world-class duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. That innings gave a perfect platform for Indian batsman and they managed to get to the mark of 334 runs in the first innings. This was his first 50+ score outside Asia.
Not just Vijay, this innings gave a ray of hope to the Indian Test team too as they had desperate need of an opening batsman at that time. Unfortunately, India lost the match as Jacques Kallis played a magnificent knock of 115 and Steyn bagged 9 wickets in the test.
#4 167 vs Australia, Hyderabad, March 2013
Vijay’s career best came against Australia in March 2013 in Hyderabad. He scored 167 off 361 deliveries with the help of 23 fours and 2 sixes.
India lost their first wicket early in the innings and from there on the real test of Australian bowlers started. Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara together did a partnership of 370 runs and pushed Australia in deep trouble.
They both played together for 110 overs with great intent and grit. India scored 503 runs in the first innings in the reply of Australia’s 9/237 declared. Some magical spin bowling from the duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin did the remaining job and India won that match by an innings and 135 runs.
If we look at his career, this innings was of great importance and also came at a very right moment. After this knock, he became a regular member of the Indian Test team.
#3 95 vs England, Lord’s, July 2014
India won their second test against England at Lord’s in 2014 and ended the 28-year drought at the venue. Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma were the lead heroes of that historic test win but Vijay’s contribution with the bat in the second innings was one of the turning points of the match.
He played a commendable knock of 95 runs off 247 balls in the 2nd innings which comprised 11 fours. His innings and half centuries from Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped India to set the target of 319 runs in front of England to win the Test match. Ishant Sharma’s sensational spell ended the hopes of England as he bagged 7 wickets in the second innings.
Not just in second innings, his contribution in the first innings was fine too as the wicket was a green-top. He scored just 24 runs but the most important thing was that he played 67 deliveries and took off the freshness of the new ball and pitch that helped the coming batsmen to play with ease.
#2 146 vs England, Trent Bridge, July 2014
Murali Vijay played a remarkable innings of 146 runs in the very first Test match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, against England in 2014 Test series. He played 361 deliveries which comprised 25 fours and a six.
He didn’t start the innings on a very positive note as James Anderson produced few chances but luck was on Vijay’s side on that day. After spending some time in the middle, he started leaving the good balls and shaped his inning beautifully from there on.
However, the Indian team failed to make most out of it and the test match ended up with no result. This was Vijay’s first and only century in England. He played 13 Test innings after his first Test there and failed to make any other century.
#1 144 vs Australia, Brisbane, December 2015
Opening the innings against the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood is one of the most difficult tasks to do and that too at Brisbane which is known for its bouncy and fast pitches.
The Tamil Nadu batsman played an innings of 144 runs with the help of 22 fours off 213 deliveries. This was Vijay’s maiden test century in Australia. A glance of Sourav Ganguly’s 144 at the same venue was there in this innings, which made it even more special.
Both the Indian openers gave a decent start in the first innings. With the help of Vijay's gritty knock and Rahane's half-century, India managed to score 408 all out. However, India failed again to get a lead in the match. The reason behind this was Steven Smith's knock of 133 in the first innings.
India was bowled out for 224 in the second innings. The Indian seamers put some fight in front of Australia in the run-chase but that was not enough to win the Test match.