Former Indian all-rounder Sanjay Bangar has backed Hanuma Vihari to play ahead of Shreyas Iyer in the upcoming three-match Test series against South Africa.
Hanuma Vihari has been backed by the team’s think tank in the foreign conditions but he played his last Test match against Australia in Sydney in 2020, where he showed all the gumption despite his hamstring injury.
Vihari was surprisingly not picked in the two-match Test series against New Zealand. However, the right-hander went on to tour South Africa with India A team where he scored 227 runs in three unofficial matches at an impressive average of 75.67. Thus, Vihari must have gained a lot of confidence after performing well in the South African conditions, where the team is all set to tour.
On the other hand, Shreyas Iyer was able to grab his opportunity with both hands as he scored a fine century on his Test debut. Furthermore, he scored fifty in the second innings and became the first Indian player to score a hundred and a fifty on his Test debut.
Iyer has been named in India’s Test squad for the series against South Africa and he is also expected to get his chance at number five after proving his mettle in Indian conditions.
Thus, it will be a good selection for the team management as both of these players are in good form. However, Vihari has more experience of playing in overseas conditions at the top level than Shreyas Iyer and this could work in his favor.
Sanjay Bangar said while talking to Star Sports, “If the choice has to be between Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari, I would tilt towards Hanuma Vihari because of the kind of service he has done. He deserves that chance to bat ahead of Shreyas Iyer in an overseas Test match.”
“I think Shreyas at the moment is high on confidence. If the thinking of the team management is that young careers have to begin in Indian conditions, so there is confidence for Shreyas Iyer.”
The former Indian batting coach reckons Hanuma Vihari deserves his chance in the team’s final XI as he has shown resistance for the team in the past.
“But look at Hanuma Vihari. He is somebody who has played the hard yards, who has got a hundred in West Indies, he saved a Test match for you in Sydney. Whenever he was asked to open the innings, he did that. He played on a single leg to save a Test match and he got a hundred.”
Meanwhile, Rahane has been horribly out of form in the last two years and he has scored 683 runs in the last 16 Test matches at an average of 24.39. Ergo, Bangar reckons it will be difficult for the team management to accommodate Rahane in the playing XI after his poor run of form.
“I will find it very difficult to accommodate Ajinkya Rahane. Because you do require experience but you do not require too much experience, you also require form, you require youth and you require exuberance.”
The first Test match between South Africa and India will be played at Centurion from December 26.