Will be very unfortunate if Hanuma Vihari doesn't play Cape Town Test, time has come to back him: Gautam Gambhir

Will be very unfortunate if Hanuma Vihari doesn’t play Cape Town Test, time has come to back him: Gautam Gambhir

Vihari scored unbeaten 40 in Johannesburg after being include at the last moment in the XI as Virat Kohli missed out due to injury.

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari. (Photo Source: Instagram)

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir believes that India must include Hanuma Vihari in the playing XI for the third and last Test against South Africa in Cape Town, which gets underway from January 11.

Vihari, who was sent to South Africa for the shadow tour with India A, was surprisingly kept out of the Boxing Day Test in Centurion after an impressive run the unofficial Tests, as India persisted with Ajinkya Rahane. An eleventh-hour niggle, meanwhile, to India skipper Virat Kohli ahead of the Johannesburg Test meant Vihari got a chance to feature in the team.

While both Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara were under immense pressure owing to their prolonged red-ball rut, the duo notched up fluent half-centuries in the second Test en route to their century partnership to make a case for their inclusion for the final Test. With skipper Kohli set to return for the concerned fixture, Vihari will most likely pave way for the former, despite having scored a crucial unbeaten 40 at the Wanderers.

Gambhir, however, reckoned that Vihari would be extremely unlucky to miss out the next game while adding that the 28-year-old would have scored a half-century of his own had he batted at the number Rahane did.

Time has come to back Vihari as much as India has backed Rahane: Gautam Gambhir

“It will be very unfortunate if he doesn’t play the next Test because if Rahane has scored a fifty, then Hanuma Vihari has also scored 40 not out. If Hanuma Vihari had batted at that number instead of Rahane, probably he would have also scored a fifty,” said Gambhir during an interaction on Star Sports.

“The control with which Vihari has batted in both the innings, you want to give such a batter a long rope. It should not be that you play him a match, then leave him out and play him the next Test after six months or a year,” he added.

Suggesting the makeup of the Indian batting lineup for the Cape Town Test, he said that Vihari should be slotted at No. 5 while returning skipper should continue to retain his No. 4 position.

“We have seen for a long time what performance Rahane has given. I believe when Virat Kohli comes in the next Test match, he bats at No. 4 in place of Rahane and Vihari bats at No. 5.”

“It’s the right move and right direction going forward as well because if the team management has backed Rahane so much, the time has come to back Hanuma Vihari as much because he has looked very solid in both innings.”