India’s Murali Vijay is ready to capitalise on a horror injury to young gun Prithvi Shaw, declaring he has no fear of Australian conditions after almost certainly securing his spot for this week’s first Test.
The veteran opening batsman smacked an entertaining 129, including 16 fours and five sixes, in a warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI on Saturday.
After being dropped following a pair in the second Test against England this year, the 34-year-old was seen to be in a fight with incumbent KL Rahul to open the batting alongside Shaw in Adelaide.
But a nasty ligament injury on Friday ruled out the teenager — who has been compared to Sachin Tendulkar — making Vijay and Rahul odds-on to face the new ball together again.
Others with an outside chance include Shikhar Dhawan or even uncapped Mayank Agarwal.
“We come from the same part of India, so we understand each other well,” Vijay said of Rahul, who scored 62 in India’s second innings against the CA XI.
“He is a good guy to bat with and he is fun. Hopefully we can carry that momentum forward into the first Test.”
The pair have batted 25 times together at Test level and Vijay scored 53 and 99 four years ago in Adelaide, a venue he says he likes.
“It suits me because I’m a batsman who likes to play off the back foot,” he said.
“Australia is one place where you get the bounce so you can play shots.
“It always feels good to go to grounds where you have scored runs, it helps you a lot and I have good memories of it and looking forward to the Adelaide Test.”
After being axed following his Lord’s failure, Vijay worked his way back into contention through a spell with Essex and said he had never given up hope of earning a 60th Test cap.
“If you are not part of the team, you have to make sure you keep your work ethics at the top level and once you get the chance you have to be ready to go,” he said.
“That was my basic fundamental after being dropped in England until now.”
While India’s opening pair appear in form, their middle order also looks good with Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari all making half-centuries in the CA XI match.
Their bowlers were less impressive, with an inexperienced CA side making a mammoth 544 in reply to the visitors’ first innings 358.
Pacemen Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, and chief spinner Ravichandran Ashwin got in some valuable practice, but were all expensive.