In his four knocks in India's tour of West Indies, Hanuma Vihari walked in at 93/4, 187/4, 164/4 and 57/4. All happen to completely contrasting scenarios, yet Vihari went on to make 32, 93, 111 and 53*. Not for once did he look like he didn't belong. Not for once did he appear to be uncomfortable at the crease 

It is also worth noting that each time he was dismissed or left the crease, India were in a much more assured position in the game than when he walked in.

Such is India's strength in the top-order that lower middle-order batsmen, particularly in Tests at home or against significantly weaker sides abroad, and their contributions are often neglected.

But in Vihari's case, it has been different. He was recognised as a fine Test player in England when he made a fighting half-century on debut at the Oval. In Australia, the belief strengthened when he adjusted to team demands and opened the innings alongside Mayank Agarwal.

He might not have scored runs, but Vihari showed good technique and temperament at the top. As such, when he was chosen alongside Ajinkya Rahane at West Indies, we accepted gleefully.

The kind of performance he put in during that tour should have ideally sealed his place in the Test side for long. Instead, after making 10 in 24 balls in his only outing in the first Test at Vizag, Vihari was dropped from the Test side for the rest of the series.

No, Rahane wasn't sitting out either. The experienced middle-order batsman played the remaining Tests and even found considerable success but there's nothing to suggest Vihari wouldn't have done the same while offering a bit of part-time off-spin.

The one weakness Vihari possibly has is against the short ball. Ben Stokes in England and Pat Cummins in Australia tested him and won his wicket with the bouncer. But in home conditions, where his solitary Test remains the one against South Africa, Vihari is more likely to succeed than Rahane, who has a rather notable weakness against spin.

In fact, while an overall look at Rahane and Vihari's career gives pretty much similar averages, in recent times, the experienced Rahane hasn't had as much success at International level. Since 2017, Rahane has a Test average of 38.7 with three hundreds in 29 Tests.


Hanuma Vihari

Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane since 2017





















Vihari, on the other hand, averages 42.36 with a hundred and three fifties. His opportunities have not just been few and far between, but also batting time has been limited due to a highly imperious top-order.

In the chances he has had, Vihari has shown great potential. In fact, recent record suggests he should be playing ahead of Rahane in the Test XI. However, the management has chosen the experience of Rahane with Vihari in danger of going down the Karun Nair route.                                  

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Randy Brooks