Former India opener Murali Vijay announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket on Monday, January 30. The 38-year-old batter represented the country in 61 Tests, 17 ODIs, and nine T20Is from 2008 to 2018. He tasted the majority of his success in the red-ball format, scoring 3982 runs at an average of 38.28, with 12 hundreds and 15 fifties to his name.
Speaking of his white-ball numbers, the Tamil Nadu cricketer scored 339 runs in ODIs at an average of 21.18 and 169 in T20Is, averaging 18.77. Apart from representing India, Vijay also impressed for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He was part of the franchise from 2009 to 2013 and again from 2018 to 2020.
Announcing his international retirement through an official note on Twitter, Vijay described his cricketing journey from 2002-2018 as the most wonderful years of his life, adding that it was an honor to represent India at the highest level of the sport.
While Vijay will not go down in Indian cricket history as one of the greats, we look at three reasons why his record in Test cricket is rather underrated.
#1 Vijay played some high-quality knocks in overseas conditions
A Test average of 38.28 might be below par, but Vijay has to his credit some fine knocks, compiled in tough conditions away from home. It goes without saying that opening in overseas conditions is one of the hardest jobs in the game.
One of his standout Test knocks came against England in Nottingham in 2014. Vijay occupied the crease for 468 minutes, scoring 146 off 361 balls in the first innings. The marathon effort came against a strong English attack comprising James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, and Moeen Ali. Vijay scored another resolute half-century in the second innings as India drew a high-scoring Test.
The technically sound opener also scored an elegant 144 against Australia in Brisbane in 2014, standing up to the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Nathan Lyon. Although the knock went in vain as Australia won the contest by four wickets, the effort remains among one of the finest by an overseas opener Down Under.
Vijay’s fourth-innings 99 in Adelaide during the same series gave Australia a serious scare during their defense of 364. The opener added 185 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli (141). Vijay was trapped lbw by Lyon, one short of his hundred. His scalp proved to be decisive as India went down in the Test by 48 runs.
#2 Only Gavaskar and Sehwag have more Test hundreds for India as opener
This is a hugely significant stat with regard to Vijay's underrated legacy in Test cricket. He is at No. 3 on the list of Indian openers with the most Test hundreds. While Vijay has 12 tons as an opener, only Sunil Gavaskar (33) and Virender Sehwag (22) are above him on the illustrious list.
Gautam Gambhir (nine) is below Vijay on the list, followed by Navjot Singh Sidhu (eight), KL Rahul (seven), and Shikhar Dhawan (seven). Out of his 12 Test tons, four came against Australia and three against England, which proves that he liked scoring runs against the big teams.
His career-best Test score of 167 also came against the Aussies in Hyderabad in March 2013.
#3 He formed a formidable partnership with Shikhar Dhawan
Another highly impressive stat about Vijay’s Test career is the fact that his partnership with Dhawan is the third most prolific opening pairing in Indian Test history.
Between 2013 and 2018, Vijay and Dhawan scored 1748 runs in 41 Tests as an opening combination at an impressive average of 43.70. They were involved in three hundred partnerships and six half-century stands, with a best of 289.
Of the Indian openers, only Sehwag-Gambhir (4412 runs) and Chetan Chauhan-Gavaskar (3010 runs) have scored more runs as a pair. While Sehwag and Gambhir shared 11 century and 25 half-century stands, Chauhan and Gavaskar were involved in 10 hundred stands and as many 50-run partnerships.
Vijay will be remembered as one of the most underrated cricketers in India’s Test history.
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