Virat Kohli returned to India’s eleven for the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town after missing the second Test in Johannesburg. Hanuma Vihari, who replaced Kohli in the second Test, was once again benched despite his impressive show with the bat.
Hanuma Vihari scored 20 and 40*, two crucial contributions on a difficult batting surface. However, since both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored attacking fifties in the second innings, the axe fell on Vihari.
However, this is not a new situation for the Andhra Pradesh batsman. Of the 13 Tests in his career so far, Vihari has played in India only once while the rest 12 coming in overseas conditions. Because of the combination India play at home, and other factors, the right-hander hasn’t got more than a solitary outing in home conditions.
Getting dropped in Cape Town once again showed why Hanuma Vihari has had the disfavour of luck.
Here are three reasons why Hanuma Vihari has been unlucky:
Unfair call by selectors
It was a total injustice to Hanuma Vihari that he was denied an opportunity to add to the tally of his single home Test when the selectors chose to send him to South Africa for ‘A’ matches while the Test side hosted New Zealand for two Tests in December.
Especially after he’d helped India save a Test in Sydney against Australia on one leg (he tore his hamstring at the start of his knock), Vihari deserved to play soon. He didn’t got a chance on the England tour but when Kohli and Rohit were rested from the home New Zealand series, the selectors had him facing South Africa A.
As it turned out, Shreyas Iyer got an opportunity in Kanpur and slammed a century and a half-century on debut. To add questions to their call, the management didn’t play Vihari in the first Test against South Africa. Vihari’s age of 28 may have also put the selectors in a dilemma, for he’s not too young to be thought of as a long future prospect, nor too experienced to be considered a veteran.
Long rope to Pujara and Rahane
While Virat Kohli is the captain and cannot be dropped, the management has given a much longer rope to both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane than perhaps any other Indian batters have got in recent memory.
The numbers of both the senior batters have been below their standards since 2020 and haven’t been in the best of form. Vihari, on the other hand, after scoring a vital 50 in New Zealand two years ago, has only played in 4 Tests since.
India’s combination of 5 bowlers
This is perhaps the biggest factor why Hanuma Vihari hasn’t featured in as many Tests as one would have expected. Under Virat Kohli, India have usually played with five bowlers where Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur have featured as all-rounders.
After wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant at number 6, the all-rounders are followed by the pacers. This leaves India with no room to add another batsman. While at home, an extra spinner plays replacing a pacer, once again leaving Vihari on the bench.