As one would expect with a debutant in the Indian cricket team, Hanuma Vihari was nervous and felt the pressure to perform immediately when called up for duty. The young man walked out to bat with captain Virat Kohli at the other end, unhappy about the way the top order had perished without applying themselves in batting-friendly conditions on the third day of the Oval Test match against England.
Vihari’s stay was almost a three-ball matter, but for Stuart Broad’s refusal to take a review. Soon, Vihari was given out on another lbw appeal, but this time DRS saved him from a terrible start to his Test career.
By the time he was dismissed, he had an impressive 56 on debut which helped save the day, albeit by a small margin.
"Initially I felt the pressure, to be honest, going in yesterday, cloudy conditions and Stuart Broad and (James) Anderson bowling at you," Vihari admitted at the end of Day 3. "Initially, as I said, I had nerves. With that, I wasn't good with my decision making. But having Virat (Kohli) at the other end made my job a little easier, I guess. His inputs helped me initially. He's been playing very confidently throughout the series and his confidence boosted me at the other end. I will give a lot of credit to him for helping me out yesterday initially. But once I settled down, the wicket was very good to bat on especially with the medium pacers it got a lot slower yesterday. I got myself in and tried to capitalise as much as I could."
Once Vihari had navigated his way through the early nerves and the conditions, he capitalised against a top quality bowling attack.
Generally very hungry for runs, Vihari has immense self-belief and is calm under pressure. He exhibited that when Ben Stokes tried to unsettle him and he let it pass by.
"Usually when I bat, I try to ignore all the things which come at me. I just tried to focus on my own game. That's the style of cricket I tried to play. Obviously, Virat is very aggressive as you'll know. He also had a go at (Ben Stokes). That's how the game is played nowadays and that's how Indian cricket is.
"But my aggression is something which I want to do with the bat. Obviously, if it gets personal then I might say something back at him. But as long as it's healthy then everyone likes to have some banter on the cricket field. My style of play is to try to ignore and focus on my own game."
Vihari travelled to England in 2015 after being snubbed in the IPL, and was also a part of the India A tour to the country recently. The difficult part begins now as he looks to cement a place in the team by virtue of his performances. Vihari is confident he can achieve that and has prepared in accordance.
"It's just the start. I know I have to do a lot of things to cement my place in the Indian team, which I definitely want to do. Getting a half-century on debut is just the start," Vihari said.