Hanuma Vihari deserves similar backing to Ajinkya Rahane: Gautam Gambhir
- Hanuma Vihari played an important 40-runs knock in the Johannesburg Test
- Vihari had replaced injured Virat Kohli in the Test
- As Kohli is now set to return to Cape Town Test, Gambir fears Vihari may have to warm the bench
Vihari played a crucial knock as he remained unbeaten on 40 and put important stands with tailenders as India set 240 runs target for South Africa. Though South Africa won the match, Vihari has grabbed the limelight for playing a gritty innings.
As Kohli is now set to return to the third Test in Cape Town, starting January 11, former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir insisted that it would be “unfair” on Vihari if he misses out on a spot in the XI.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been out of form for a while. Though they scored half-centuries, they both got out after completing their half-centuries. The Indian senior duo forged a 111-run partnership for the third wicket as India scored 266 in the second innings and set 240 runs target for South Africa, who defeated India by seven wickets.
Gambhir said that Vihari hasn't been given many chances to prove himself in the longest format of the game and deserves a similar backing to Rahane, who has been going through a rough patch for almost a year.
“It would be very unfortunate if he doesn't play the next Test. If Rahane has scored a fifty, even Hanuma Vihari remained unbeaten on 40. If Vihari had batted in Rahane's position (in second innings), he might have scored a fifty as well. He has played with control in both innings,” Gambhir said on Star Sports.
“You would want to give a long rope to such a batter. You don't just play him in one game, then keep him out for the rest of the year. It is very unfair. We've seen Rahane's performances for a long time now. So, I think that when Virat Kohli comes back in the next Test, he should bat at number 4 with Hanuma Vihari at 5. Going forward, I think it's a right move in the right direction.”
Gambhir said that Vihari was “solid” in both innings and deserves a place in the XI in the Cape Town Test. “If the team management has backed Rahane so much, it is time for them to put their faith in Hanuma Vihari as well, because he has looked solid in both, the first as well as the second innings,” said the former India opener.