At a time when opening the batting in tests became one of the toughest jobs in cricket, Murali Vijay showed his wares as a reliable and effective batter at the top of the order.
The right-handed batsman, who today announced his retirement from international cricket, represented India in all three formats, but it was in the test arena that he enjoyed a considerable amount of success.
The 38-year-old played 61 tests, making 3982 runs at an average of 38.28, including 12 centuries. A tough character, Vijay was someone who could be relied upon, especially in trying conditions overseas.
Here, we look at five instances where Murali Vijay proved his mettle as a test match opener.
#1 97 vs South Africa (Durban 2013)
In the second test of India's tour of South Africa in 2013, Murali Vijay played a solid innings to help India post a respectable total on the board. India lost Shikhar Dhawan early on, but Vijay combined with Cheteshwar Pujara to forge a 157-run stand for the second wicket.
The conditions were tough, with a lot of movement both in the air and off the pitch, but Vijay battled it out to make 97 crucial runs. He faced Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, and Jacques Kallis in that innings, which further highlighted the quality of his performance.
He missed out on what would have been a fine century, courtesy of a ripper short ball from Steyn. India eventually lost the game thanks to a lackluster bowling display and a poor batting display in the second innings, but had it not been for Vijay's innings, the defeat would have been quite humiliating.
#2 146 vs England (Nottingham, 2014)
At Trent Bridge in 2014, Murali Vijay produced a batting masterclass to help India kick off the tour on a strong and positive note. It was the first test of a five-match long series and India dominated the first day thanks to his fine knock.
By the end of Day 1, he had already made 122 runs, with his first fifty coming off just 68 deliveries. It was also Vijay's maiden test ton outside India, following which he became a consistent performer overseas.
He had another good outing in the second innings as he made 52 runs with the help of seven fours and a six. The test eventually ended in a draw, but it was a good start for India, as the team followed it up with a win at Lord's in the following game.
#3 144 vs Australia (Brisbane, 2014)
Murali Vijay had a brilliant series when India toured Australia in 2014-15, as he made 482 runs in 4 tests at an average of 60.25. While Steve Smith and Virat Kohli grabbed the headlines, Vijay quietly enjoyed a successful tour.
In the second test at Brisbane, the Tamil Nadu batter scored a spectacular 144 in the first innings to help India post 408 runs on the board. Wickets at the other end fell at regular intervals, but Vijay maintained his composure to deny the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon.
Vijay's 144 was the second-highest number of runs scored on the first day of a test by an Indian against Australia. Prior to his knock, only one visiting batter had scored a century at the Gabba on the opening day.
A poor performance with the ball and a dismal second dig with the bat cost India the test match, but it was a big win for Vijay, who carried the confidence and momentum to the rest of the series.
#4 99 vs Australia (Adelaide, 2014)
Virat Kohli made his captaincy debut in the first test of the 2014 test tour of Australia. Requiring 364 runs in the 4th innings to win the Test match, India went for the chase instead of settling for a draw.
India lost two early wickets, but Murali Vijay held one end as Kohli played a stroke-filled innings of 141 to take India close to the target. He himself played a few glorious shots whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The 38-year-old fell agonizingly short of a hundred, as he was dismissed on 99 by Nathan Lyon. Vijay and Kohli shared a remarkable partnership of 185 runs, which put the Aussies under the pump. Vijay's dismissal triggered a collapse as India were bowled out for 315, handing the hosts a 48-run win.
#5 95 vs England (Lord's, 2014)
Murali Vijay had a huge say in one of India's finest Test wins overseas at Lord's in 2014. After the first innings, India were behind the hosts by 47 runs and required a special batting performance to stay alive in the game.
Vijay stepped up for the team as he played a defiant knock of 95 against a potent attack that featured James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, Liam Plunkett, and Moeen Ali. He faced 247 balls in an innings full of grit and determination.
His effort helped India set England a target of 319, and the hosts were eventually bundled out for 223 thanks to a stellar bowling performance by Ishant Sharma. It was a famous and memorable win for India at a time when the team was not doing well overseas, and Vijay was the architect of the victory.
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