Southampton: India batsman Hanuma Vihari says batting in England is challenging, not only because of Dukes balls that do something throughout the day, but also because overhead conditions are unpredictable.
“The Kookaburra gets soft in Australia after a while. But the Dukes does something all day — off the wicket or in the air. There’s always something for the bowlers and that is the key challenge,” said Vihari, who had a three-match stint with Warwickshire county in April.
Vihari had travelled to England after he was ignored by Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises.
Vihari’s stint was unproductive as he failed to score twice, made two scores of eight and managed only one half-century. However, he feels the stint gave him an idea of what to expect in England.
“When I came to England in April, it was quite cold. Even if you believe you are set, you can still be surprised by the movement. Like when I got out in my 30s against Essex, where I thought the wicket was quite good to bat on, but the odd ball was doing something because of the hard seam on the Dukes,” Vihari told espncricinfo.com
“Jamie Porter [right-arm seamer] angled it in, so I was playing for the line and then the ball straightened off the wicket. It was a decent delivery, but it surprised me with the movement, because in the previous few overs it was doing nothing off the wicket, then suddenly the ball kicked off the wicket,” he explained about the unpredictable nature of the pitch.
Vihari said that he would stand a middle-stump guard in England to cover for the movement, unlike in Australia where standing on the leg-stump and being beside the ball would suffice.
“In Australia, it [guard] was more towards leg-stump because there is no lateral movement there, so you can play beside the line of the ball. Here, in England, you have to get more in line and judge the off stump more because of the movement of the ball,” said the middle-order batsman whose gritty unbeaten 23 off 161 balls helped India draw the third Test in Australia in Sydney.
“I start on the middle stump…at the same time, you have to remember that if it is a stump-line ball, you have to play straight,” he added.
The 27-year-old Andhra batsman said handling overhead conditions would be important especially since it is early part of English summer.
“Definitely, that’s the challenge here. The overhead conditions play a part as well because when it is sunny, it gets a bit easier to bat, but when it is overcast, the ball moves all day. That was the challenge I faced early on in this season of county cricket — because it was quite cold and the ball was doing a lot off the wicket,” added Vihari.
Vihari was dismissed by Stuart Broad for a duck in his first innings of County Championship season. He was caught in slips while trying to drive a ball.
“I thought it was full enough for me to drive, but again, in England you have to be really certain with your shot selection. In India, you can get away with a push, or even if it is not there to drive, you can still get away driving on the up. If I were to play that ball a second time, I would try to play as late possible,” he said.