Late on Saturday, when Hanuma Vihari went down the steps of the dressing room to the field, he had to stay a few minutes alone while his captain stopped to go to the bathroom. India had lost the Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane fast terrains to reach 103 by 4, and although Virat Kohli was strong, he was upset by the mistakes of his first-rate hitter.
Vihari was quiet, but nervous. Kohli returned soon and patted him on the shoulder to wish him luck, as the rookie prepared to face his first ball in international cricket.
Vihari would have liked to enter a better time. Whatever thoughts were piling up in his mind, he had to banish them as the first ball in the test cricket was going to be thrown by James Anderson, a man who had been bothered by referee Kumar Dharmasena after refusing a call close to lbw against Kohli.
Anderson rolled completely and pushed him away. Vihari leaned forward and killed him. In that first blow, Vihari showed his willingness to play the ball and not be hampered by doubts. His journey in international cricket had begun.
He could have been shaky and nervous on that initial night, but this morning Vihari was much calmer and confident in his defense and stroke game. His head had been falling yesterday and he was vulnerable against the incoming ball. But today he looked much more balanced and would break half a century in his first Test entry and emulate a pair of former Indian captains, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, the last two men who achieved a similar feat in their first chance. In England.
Crucially, his association of 77 races for the seventh wicket with Ravindra Jadeja, the highest for the lower order of India in this series of tests, brought India back to the final test.
Next, Vihari describes in his own words his trip in the test cricket:
In his nervous start
Initially I felt the pressure, to be honest. Entering yesterday, Cloudy and Stuart Broad and (James) Anderson playing to you. I had nerves. With that, I was not good with my decision making. But having Virat in the other made my job a little easier, I suppose. Your contributions helped me initially. He has been playing with a lot of confidence throughout the series and his confidence pushed me to the other side. I will give you a lot of credit for helping me initially yesterday. But once I calmed down, the wicket was very good for hitting, especially with the midfielders. Yesterday it was much slower.
On his initial difficulties against inswinger
Nerves force you to do unusual things. If I do not have any pressure on me, if I'm comfortable, I do not think any ball causes me problems. Yesterday, I definitely had problems to face the incoming delivery, but Virat gave me some clues to be able to play comfortably. I tried to do that yesterday. And even this morning, I tried to deny that inswinging ball, especially from Broad. I did it more comfortably than in the initial stages.
Upon learning that he was about to make his Test debut
I got to know the day before the match. Obviously, I was very excited. Because that was my dream, to grow up playing cricket. First I informed my family about it and they were also very, very happy. Getting a fifty in the debut is just the beginning.
In India The influence of a coach Dravid
I called him [Dravid] the day before he debuted and told him he was debuting. He spoke to me for a couple of minutes and gave me his opinion, and I thought that it relieved my nerves a little, because it comes from a legend and you know that you belong here. He just told me that you have the skill set, that you have the mentality and the temperament, just go and have fun. I would like to give him a lot of credit for that because my trip with India A was very important for me to come here, because not only did I play there, but the way he gave us the tickets, that made me a better player.