End of the road? Murali Vijay's tale of amusement and horror
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by", Robert Frost's famous lines fit Murali Vijay perfectly. In the era of fast-paced action of limited overs cricket, Vijay has opted for a path which is not often explored. The path of Test Cricket, the beautiful format of the game, the format which requires calibre, resilience, perseverance and impeccable temperament.
Vijay burst onto the scene with his heroics in the Indian Premier League(IPL). In the 2010 edition of the league, the Tamil Nadu lad scored at an average of 35 with a strike rate of 156.84. After establishing himself as an aggressive batsman Vijay redeveloped himself for the longer format. His decent form guaranteed him the opening slot in the Indian side for India's tour of England in 2014.
With zero expectations from them, the Indian openers marked their guard in the 1st Test at Trent Bridge. James Anderson created havoc at the beginning as he dismissed Shikhar Dhawan cheaply. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane followed soon after. Amidst this one Indian batsman was the standout, with his confident body language and his ability to adapt, Vijay showed his class.
His flamboyant cover drives were a pleasure to the eyes. He judged his leaves to perfection as he steadily moved to 146 with 25 boundaries and a six. For the next few games, Vijay continued the flamboyance as he marched on his merry way. All boxes were getting ticked, He scored in England, Australia and South Africa. With our eyes enraptured on the big guns, Vijay conquered the frontier silently.
4 years later, a baffled Murali Vijay has been left out from the team for the final two Tests against England. The 34-year-old has failed to negotiate the swing early in the inning and his approach has lacked composure. He has chased deliveries outside the off stump and has also failed to read the incoming delivery. South Africa and now England, he has repeated the same mistakes.
He has slowed down and his reflexes have decreased. His drives, punches, defensives and leaves have found the back door. His rolling the wrist flick shot has disappeared too and Vijay has found himself in a situation of jitter. His amusement has turned into horror, a horror that would continue to haunt him.
2013 to 2017 were Murali Vijay's golden years. He showed Monk like calmness and earned his nickname. Apart from his nickname, he earned respect and more importantly a place in the side.
Out of his 101 innings, he has been out caught on 62 occasions, 31 of these were caught by the wicketkeeper. He was out LBW on 21 occasions which shows his inability to negotiate the in-swinging delivery. Since 2015, Vijay has only maintained an average of 16.53 outside Asia.
With the availability of plenty of young batsmen, Vijay's time may be up. Is it the end of the road for the Monk?