'The situation matters more to me than strike rates' - Hanuma Vihari

Hanuma Vihari raises his bat PTI

Almost exactly a year ago, India A travelled to South Africa for two unofficial Tests and a one-day triangular. Hanuma Vihari was only part of the squad for the two four-day games against South Africa A, and he only got to play in the second of them, in Potchefstroom.

He scored 7 in the first innings, and in the second dig he walked in when India were two runs away from their target of 224. He faced one ball, and hit the winning boundary.

It's hard to draw any conclusions from a match like that, but for Vihari it was an opportunity missed. He knew what it meant to be part of the India A set-up, and didn't want to miss out when the next tour came along. Despite getting such a limited opportunity, Vihari says the tour taught him a lot, especially since he was in close proximity to Rahul Dravid, the India A coach.

"Going to South Africa and playing in those conditions, especially [since] it was my first tour, I learned a lot from that tour," Vihari told bcci.tv. "I knew what was coming after that. I knew I had to perform a lot in the domestic season again to get back into the India A squad because that tour didn't go well for me, especially with the bat.

"I had only one innings - I didn't perform, but I knew I had to perform more in the domestic season to get back into the side, and grow in the India A level, because if you have to play for India, you have to score in the A team, there's no other choice.

"So I knew I had to do well again. It helped me a lot in South Africa, especially with Rahul sir. It was the first tour with him, for me, and he gave us advice in that tour, it helped me a lot."

Since then, Vihari has made good his desire to keep scoring heavily. He scored a century in his only match in the Duleep Trophy and another hundred in the Irani Cup, those two knocks sandwiching a Ranji Trophy season in which he made 752 runs at an average of 94.00 - including a career-best 302 not out. On the tour of England with India A in June-July, he made scores of 69 and 147 in the one-day triangular series, and a 68 in an unofficial Test against West Indies A. Back home, he made 202 runs at 67.33 in two four-day games against South Africa A.

All those runs have catapulted Vihari into India's Test squad for the last two Tests in England. He knows it won't be easy for him to break into the first XI immediately - apart from the established middle-order batsmen, he also has Karun Nair to get past - but he is mindful that he has to be ready mentally to grab the opportunity when it does arrive.

"To be honest, if you see the Indian side, it's tough to get into the side, but once you get into the side you have to make sure that you grab that opportunity," he said. "That's the only thing I'm thinking about. I know that opportunity will come, but I have to be really ready for the opportunity. Once it comes I really want to grab it and make it my own."

And when he does get the opportunity, he wants to show the world that he can adapt his game to any situation.

"It's more the situation that matters to me rather than the strike rates I'm batting at," Vihari said. "Sometimes on a good day you'll bat at 60-70 in a four-day game, but sometimes you have to grind for the team, you have to bat at 45-50 as well.

"If you have that mental ability to bat differently at different situations, you're rated as one of the best batsmen, you can score consistently at a higher level as well."