During the Australia tour, Heroes for Team India kept popping up one after the other. It was captain Ajinkya Rahane himself in the Boxing Day Test. At Gabba youngsters like Shubman Gill, Rishah Pant and Mohammed Siraj punched above their weight. Cheteshwar Pujara was nothing short of a guardian angel, getting hit for the sake of team but standing rock solid to drain out the energy of Australia bowlers.
One such hero on the tour was Hanuma Vihari. He braved a very severe hamstring and faced 161 balls for his unbeaten 23 to deny Australia the chance to take a 2-1 lead before travelling to their fortress in Gabba.
Vihari explained how he was able to battle pain and overcome doubts to play the marathon innings along with Ashwin.
“So, when I went into bat, Pujara was batting well and we went for a quick single. Everybody saw that I snapped my hamstring but I knew immediately, I couldn’t run. I told the physio ‘see I don’t think it’s a spasm or a cramp’. I could feel the hamstring core. So, he said ‘okay, I will stretch you a little and give you a tablet and you see how it goes’. Then I took a tablet and faced the first ball against Nathan Lyon, I was in pain. I told Pujara ‘see I don’t think I can run or I don’t feel like I can bat as well’. He said ‘just hang around and see how you feel in the next couple of balls’,”Vihari said.
“I told myself that I have 20 minutes to Tea and I will just bat it out and then see what happens. Then I did that, I went into the dressing room. They gave me a pain-killer injection.
“Then a few of the support staff came and told me ‘you owe the team for the belief they have shown in you’. Obviously, in the first 2 games, I didn’t do anything big. But it was time for me to give it back to the team in some sorts.”
How Ashwin and Vihari countered Nathan Lyon
“I had clarity. Even Ash helped me. He said that would take it 1 over at a time. ‘Let’s take it as deep as possible and see where it goes’. Pain was there when I was batting but my only goal was to bat 6 balls and take a break for 6 balls.
“I told Ash that I was not able to stretch out for Nathan Lyon. I told him ‘you play Nathan Lyon, then I will play the fast bowlers’. I was batting 6 balls, he was really composed and he was able to see off Lyon.
“We took it one over at a time and we made the impossible possible, I guess. That’s how I batted through pain for 4 hours,” he added.
Hanuma Vihari’s SCG heroics had seen India finish the final day at 334 for 5, denying Australia an unbeatable 2-1 lead.