If numbers are anything to go by, Hanuma Vihari is second to none. Vihari has the world’s best first class average of 59.45 and he is the first cricketer from Andhra Pradesh to have made it in the Indian squad in 19 years after MSK Prasad. His credentials has led him to maiden Test call-up for the last two Tests against England at Southampton and Oval, although, he believes it’s still difficult to get into the final playing eleven.

“To be honest if you see the Indian side, it’s tough to get into the playing eleven. Once you get into the side you have to make sure you grab that opportunity. That’s the only thing I am thinking about,” Vihari said, speaking to BCCI TV.

The 24-year-old reckoned that tours to Australia and South Africa gave him a “good exposure” as a cricketer and A tours, according to him, are crucial to national call-ups.

“There are teams like Australia and South Africa and this gives us a very good exposure. But at the same time there is world cup coming up next year and if you perform at this level you have a good chance of getting in the world cup side which is a dream for everyone. I am giving my best and hope everything falls in place,” he said.

Selection in the final eleven may be difficult for the 24-year-old lad as India seemed to have finally solved the middle order muddle, thanks to the performance of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara in the third Test match at Trent Bridge. Nonetheless, his 148 against South Africa A in Alur earlier this month showed the kind of form he is in at the moment. Vihari attributed his confidence to batting greats – Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

“Going to South Africa and playing under those conditions, I learnt a lot from the tour. It helped me a lot in South Africa especially with Rahul sir (Rahul Dravid) …the way he gave us advice, it helped me a lot.

 “Coming from Hyderabad, VVS Laxman has been an inspiration. He is a legend. I was fortunate to play a few games with him. In SRH he was my mentor and therein he told me to trust my game, gave me a lot of freedom and be in a good space of mind,” he said. In 2016/2017, Vihari shifted his base to Andhra Pradesh from Hyderabad and took the decision as a challenge He says, he wanted to be an “Indian player and not just a Ranji player”.

“I wanted a step higher and had the goal and determination to play for the country and that’s the reason why I changed sides. I am glad that I took that decision,” the right-handed batsman, said.

Vihari scored a career best triple century against Odisha (302 not out), finishing the Ranji season with 752 runs in six matches at a staggering average of 94.00. Overall, Vihari has scored 5142 runs at an average of 59.45 in 63 matches. In the process, he had 24 half centuries and 15 centuries to his name.

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