One of the abiding memories of India’s tour of England in 2014 is of M Vijay leaving ball after ball outside the off stump. He would finish the five-Test series, which India lost 1-3, with 402 runs at an average of 40.20. Only Joe Root and Gary Ballance finished ahead of him in the batting charts. None of the other top four Indian batters even crossed the 300-run mark.
With India set to play five Tests in England from August 1 to September 11 this year, Vijay has said that it is important be patient in those conditions to succeed.
Vijay is not a part of the white-ball team, meaning he will join the team late after India’s ODI and T20I commitment against Ireland and England. He was, however, not looking that far ahead. His immediate focus is the upcoming Test against Afghanistan, which starts in Bangalore on June 14.
“The Test against Afghanistan gives us an opportunity to go out there and express ourselves. It will definitely be an interesting game and from there on, the strategies for the England series will start,” Vijay told The Times of India on Thursday (June 7). “Even experienced players tend to struggle in England as the conditions are alien. Scoring runs in such conditions is a mental game and you have to be persistent. It is important to bide your time, believe in yourself and runs will come. That’s what I have looked to do throughout my career.”
India have not a won a Test series in England since Rahul Dravid’s team achieved the feat in 2007. It puts the onus on Vijay to give the team a strong foundation. Having not played in England for so long, it would be a challenge for him to adapt. Unlike Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma, who are currently playing in the county circuit to acclimatise themselves to the conditions, Vijay did not take up an offer with an English domestic side after going unsold in the first day of the IPL auctions. He was picked up by Chennai Super Kings on Day 2 of the auctions, but played only one game for the eventual champions. It means Vijay has played just two competitive games, the other two for Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare 50-over competition, since the Test series in South Africa ended in the last week of January.
Vijay was not setting up any target for himself. “I have been telling people that it’s about winning more than individual performances. You can perform well but at the end of the day if the team doesn’t win (the series), then it doesn’t give much happiness,” he said. “I tried going for different things (earlier) and it didn’t work. I am in a state where I want to enjoy the game than set any targets. I believe I have the hunger to go, do big and that’s more important.”