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10 Sep 2020 | 02:35 PM
'Batting on Matting': Vihari trains for OZ series with coach Sridhar for company
Vihari is one of the two centrally contracted India players not part of the IPL this year after being overlooked by the eight franchises

At a time when his India teammates are gearing up for the glitzy IPL more than 2500 miles away from Hyderabad, Hanuma Vihari has his eyes trained on something more challenging, the marquee tour of Australia.

Vihari is one of the two centrally contracted India players (the other being Cheteshwar Pujara) not part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year after being overlooked by the eight franchises.

"It would have been great if I had been a part of IPL but I can't think about it," Vihari, who has 552 runs from 9 Tests, told PTI.

With the COVID-19 related restrictions preventing full-fledged training, Vihari is doing his own net sessions with the help of none other than Indian team's fielding coach, R Sridhar, in their hometown.

"Yes, Sridhar sir is helping me in my training and due to lockdown, you don't have grounds open. I am batting on matting wicket during net session," the reticent Vihari said.

The primary aim is to get adjusted to the extra bounce on Australian tracks and playing on matting wickets helps as the deliveries have a tendency to rear up awkwardly.

"The grounds are all closed and this is the resource available. The bounce is different and its a challenge," said the 26-year-old, who has an average of 58 plus in first-class cricket in 85 games.

It is learnt that fielding coach Sridhar, who has watched Vihari from his junior days, is monitoring his training sessions and also giving him throwdowns.

Players from Hyderabad are known to grow up on matting and astro turf wickets.

Mohammed Azharuddin and VVS Laxman played a lot of cricket on artificial turfs during their younger days and their elegant wrist work could be partly attributed to "batting on matting".

Sridhar's presence will also help the Indian coaching team, headed by Ravi Shastri, who will have an idea about the progress of the non-IPL players and how they are shaping up ahead of the big tour.

Originally, Vihari was supposed to go to England to play in the County championship (facilitated by the BCCI) but couldn't due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown and travel restrictions.

Gade Hanuma VihariIndiaAustraliaCheteshwar Arvind Pujara
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