India in Sri Lanka: Murali Vijay Dispels Talks of ‘Extra Pressure’ on Batsmen

Colombo: Skipper Virat Kohli’s strategy to field five bowlers would mean that six specialist batsmen can hardly afford to relax but opener Murali Vijay said there won’t be any extra pressure on them when they clash with Sri Lanka in a Test series, starting next week. (Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane Ready for Challenge)

Vijay is coming into the series after making a strokeful 150 against Bangladesh in the one-off Test and the opener is eager to cement his place in the side. (Ashwin Can be the All-Rounder we Are Looking for: Kohli)

“It’s actually not demanding. It is actually our role and if any one of us clicks, it’s going to be good for the team and we are going to be in a much comfortable position on most times. So it is a good challenge,” Vijay told reporters when asked about the pressure on the top-order batsman in the face of Kohli’s five-bowler theory. (Sangakkara’s Farewell in Colombo Match)

“It is a good responsibility to have on your shoulder to go in and bat and these are good things. If you are looking to dominate in a Test match, you have to perform as a team. You should have the plans and work according to them,” he added.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan also made a blazing 173 in Bangladesh and with Lokesh Rahul also in line for a spot in the playing XI, the competition is intense. Vijay though is not too worried.

“It (the competition in the top-order) is going to add more challenge for everybody to pull up their socks and do their bit for the team. Be as consistent as possible and it’s a good challenge and good thing to have in a team,” he said.

With two fairly young sides up against one another starting August 12, Vijay hopes the challenge will be worth everything.

“There are a lot of youngsters, like Angelo Mathews is doing well, there is (Lahiru) Thiramanne, so there is a lot of talent in the team and it is going to be a tough series for us. We are also a young bunch of players and it is going to be a challenging series,” he said.

After Kumar Sangakkara’s retirement post the second Test, Sri Lanka will be without two of their most experience batsmen — Mahela Jayawardene is already retired — and Vijay opines that India will have the upperhand on that count.

“With Mahela retired and Sangakkkara about to (retire), there is a big hole in their batting line-up when these two greats retire. Overall I have seen Sri Lanka’s series with Pakistan and watched quite a bit of them. They are a talented side. We are looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can pull it off,” he said.

India Test cricket is going through a transformation period with Kohli at the helm and Vijay has high hopes from the young team.

“We are a close unit now and it has two seasons that we have been playing abroad. The first time for us to play in the sub-continent and the home series coming up, so it’s going to be exciting time as a team and for every individual because it’s going to test our character and will be challenging overall,” he said.

Vijay made a strong comeback with a wonderfully crafted 150 at Fatullah against a rejuvenated Bangladesh pace attack and the opener wishes to take take the momentum forward.

“I think I have always been that way, it just the run quotient had to be a little more consistent and now with more opportunities in the team I am really enjoying my game. I am mentally ready much more than before,” said Vijay on being asked about his new-found fearless way of batting.

“Just enjoy the game and give your best, keep it simple.

I don’t like to go much deep into anything, I like doing my stuff and if it helps the team then I am going to do the same, he added.

India will be playing a lot of their cricket at home after the Sri Lanka tour, but Vijay feels even home series are full of challenges.

“Playing international cricket is itself a challenge, there is no home and away in my personal view. Every aspect has it’s own charm and challenges, so obviously we as a player have to lift our game according to the situation,” he said.

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