Viru's game a reflection of his approach to life

VVS Laxman

India, Nov. 21 -- The first Test is barely over, and the second Test is almost upon us. The short duration between the Tests means players have to dig deep to recover quickly, both physically and mentally, and I feel that's where India have an edge over England simply because they are 1-0 up in the series.

England will find themselves under tremendous pressure, especially after their fallibility against spin was once again exposed in Ahmedabad. Agreed, they pushed the Test into the fifth day and forced India to chase after trailing by 330 runs on the first innings, but it is well worth remembering that apart from Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, no one played the turning ball with any authority.

As the Test progressed in Ahmedabad, it was obvious that the pitch got slower and lower, and, therefore, the batsmen had time to play the ball off the pitch even if they didn't read it off the hand, or edges didn't carry. The Wankhede Stadium surface has generally tended to have more bounce, and I am sure that is something both Ashwin and Ojha will relish.

Once again, India will try to bat big in the first innings and give their bowlers runs in the bank with which they can relentlessly attack the English batting, which will definitely see at least one change with Ian Bell returning home for the birth of his baby. Towards that end, the latest entrant to the 100-Test club will have a huge role to play.

Viru's 100th test

I was particularly delighted to see Viru make a hundred in Ahmedabad, and knowing him, I can state with certainty that he is the kind of player who can so easily get on a roll.

For Viru to play his 100th Test at the Wankhede is a massive achievement. Having been there, I know that it is not easy to make 100 Test appearances. It calls for hard work, plenty of perseverance, sacrifices and a total commitment to cricket, and Viru has displayed all these qualities.

When I think Viru, the first word that comes to mind is entertainment. What has made me a complete Viru fan is his equilibrium. Whether he is scoring runs or whether he is going through a lean patch, his attitude and temperament have remained the same. He is a very positive individual and that reflects in his unique style of batsmanship.

We must not lose sight of the fact that Viru started off as a middle-order batsman, who made an exceptional century against a very good South African bowling attack on debut in Bloemfontein in 2001. To have graduated from a promising middle-order prospect to one of the most feared openers in international cricket is a tribute to his skills, his approach and his uncluttered mind.

When Sourav asked Viru to open the batting in England in 2002, I pointed out to Viru the dangers of doing so because of my experiences when I was asked to open the innings.

Viru, however, took it up as a challenge and what an impact he made as a opener. I am glad he didn't listen to me! Viru is as special as they come. I wish him a memorable 100th Test match, and hope he celebrates it with another century. Well done, Viru!

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The writer is a former India batsman

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.