Cape Town: Flexibility is the key while preparing for a difficult assignment and that’s precisely the reason why senior opener Murali Vijay has done his homework with an “open mind” compared to his previous tours of South Africa.
“I am preparing myself to be a little more open-minded than I was last time. You cannot have a set pattern; you cannot go into a Test thinking that you are going to leave so many balls. You also have to be in a frame of mind to score runs,” Vijay said during a media interaction after training session.
“If they bowl in good areas, then you have to try and counter that and come out stronger as well. These are the things, I think, which will be critical for us to move forward. I just want to go out there and, whatever is thrown at me, I just want to play my A game and do well for my country,” Vijay added.
The bouncy tracks of South Africa have been the talking point of India’s upcoming Test series but Vijay reckons that managing the bounce is easier for an opener compared to swing where a batsman tends to lose his shape.
The pitch at Newlands has liberal covering of green, promising good bounce and carry throughout the game. “It is quite green. I don’t know how it is going to behave on day one. For an opening batsman, swing is more difficult to face than bounce. Personally, I think I am able to manage bounce more. If the ball swings around, it is difficult for any batsman to keep his shape,” he said.
Vijay feels a certain x-factor is required to succeed in South Africa. “Once I played Test cricket here, I realised it is pretty challenging for opening batsmen here. The seam movement and bounce in these conditions is pretty exciting for openers to go out there and perform against. It is difficult but, at the same time, you get to learn a lot as well.”
“If you have some x-factor in your game, you can use that in a match situation the next time,” said the Tamil Nadu batsman.
India have not played a practice game ahead of the Test series but Vijay is happy with the kind of preparation he has had.
When asked if these training net sessions were adequate practice, he replied: “Personally, I am okay with anything. Everybody knows what they need to do. The individuals know what exactly are the areas they need to work on.
“They have been perfect practice sessions for us so far and we are looking forward to the game now.
“I don’t want to think too much about what will happen in a couple days’ time. I just want to prepare myself and be in a confident state of mind, which I am at the moment,” said Vijay.
India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, has been suffering from viral illness for the past two days, while opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has recovered from an injury ahead of the first Test.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that its medical team, in consultation with the local medical team, decided that Jadeja will be taken to a hospital for treatment and said it expects him to fully recover in the next 48 hours.
“The BCCI medical team has been monitoring him and is also in touch with the local medical team in Cape Town,” the statement said.
“The BCCI’s decision on his availability for selection for the opening Test against South Africa will be taken on the morning of the match on Friday,” it added.
Left-handed batsman Dhawan hit the nets at the morning training session at the Newlands Stadium on Wednesday as he recovered from an ankle injury. The injury was deemed “minor”.
Dhawan is fit and is available for selection for the first Test.