Fit again Vijay eyeing strong show against Proteas

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) Having recovered from a recurrent hamstring injury, Indian opener Murali Vijay is targetting a return to peak fitness before the home series against South Africa which starts early next month.

Vijay injured his hamstring during the one-day and T20 International series against Zimbabwe in July, which also forced him to miss the first Test against Sri Lanka last month.

The Tamil Nadu batsman has been included in the 30-player list for the preparatory camp that starts in Bangalore on September 21. While he is looking forward to taking on the South Africans, Vijay’s sole focus right now is attaining his best physical shape.

“I am getting better. I should be fully fit,” Vijay was quoted as saying by bcci.tv on Wednesday.

Vijay played the second Test against Sri Lanka, scoring a gritty 82 in the second innings. But he injured his hamstring again during the 140-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane.

“I had a chat with the physio before the second Test and we decided I could play since I had done my rehabilitation well during the break (after the Zimbabwe tour). And I never had any doubts about my batting,” he recalled.

“In the second or third over of the innings, I tweaked the hamstring again and when I pushed for a single, I realised something was wrong inside,” he added. “I was struggling to run quick singles and twos. That’s when I decided that I should be a little more positive. I didn’t want to put Ajinkya under pressure and disturb his tempo.”

“I told Ajinkya, ‘You stay at one end and anchor the innings like you have so far; I will take the risks’. I thought, even if I get out, Virat would be in next. He and Ajinkya are much fitter and can run hard between the wickets. I didn’t want to disturb Ajinkya’s rhythm because at that time his wicket was more crucial to the team than mine.”

Vijay was in good form during India’s tour of South Africa in 2013. The 31-year-old is now relishing the prospect of producing another strong performance against the Proteas in Indian conditions.

Recalling the series in South Africa, Vijay said the innings he played in the Johannesburg Test went a long way in bringing about a turnaround in his career.

“It was the 39 runs in the Johannesburg Test that turned things around for me. I could feel that I was batting well. That’s what gave me confidence going into the Durban Test,” he recalled.

“I was under the pump and really wanted to come good. The ball was reversing in Durban and it helped that I play a lot of reverse swing back home at the domestic level,” he added.

“It has been a great journey for me — the last one and a half year. But the best of me is yet to come.”

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