'Horrendous to leave him out': Fans react as Hanuma Vihari excluded from playing XI for 1st Test vs SA

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Dec 26, 2021, 04:03 PM(IST)

Fans react as Hanuma Vihari excluded from playing XI for 1st Test vs SA (Twitter/BCCI) Photograph:( Twitter )

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Hanuma Vihari, who was one of the heroes of India's heroic last-day struggle to salvage the Sydney Test against Australia earlier this year, hasn't played in a Test match since.

On Sunday, India won the toss and elected to bat in the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

India skipper Virat Kohli, who is aiming for a record away Test series win in South Africa, claimed the ground's history influenced his decision to bat.

Kohli stated at the time of the coin toss: "We will bat first. Runs on the board playing away home has been our strength. The pitch tends to quicken up here on Day 2-3. Our success away from home started from the series we played here last time. A very challenging place to play."

"South African unit always strong and they know the conditions. The prep has been wonderful. Quite lucky to get the centre-wicket practice. Siraj, Shami, Bumrah, Ashwin and Thakur is the all-rounder," he added.

However, cricket lovers were disappointed and astonished by the absence of middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari, who did not play in the New Zealand series at home and instead travelled to South Africa with India A to prepare for the series.

ALSO READ: Why is South Africa team wearing black armbands in first Test against India?

Vihari, who was one of the heroes of India's heroic last-day struggle to salvage the Sydney Test against Australia earlier this year, hasn't played in a Test match since.

While fans speculated that this may be former vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane's last opportunity, he hasn't been in great form this year, having played 13 games and scored 411 runs at an average of 19.67, with only two scores in excess of 50. Following that, he was replaced as Virat Kohli's deputy in Test matches by Rohit Sharma.

KL Rahul will be the series' vice-captain after Rohit was ruled out due to a hamstring injury.

One of the heartbroken user wrote, 'You don't want to be Vihari right now, do you? Doesn't get an opportunity to score home test runs, instead gets sent to SA to get acclimatised for the tour. Does really well for Ind A, scoring 3 50s. Now doesn't get picked for the test. What a raw deal!'

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'Where is Vihari?', asked another user.

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More such anguished and disappointed reactions were seen:

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Tall left-arm fast bowler Marco Jansen, 21, made his debut for South Africa.

"He's had a lot of success against the India A side, he hit quite a few of their batters," South African skipper Dean Elgar said.

ALSO READ: 'No one told me why I was dropped': Harbhajan Singh opens up on 'sad story of Indian cricket' post retirement

Jansen's presence meant that fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who had returned to the South African team after three seasons as a Kolpak player in England, won't be in the playing XI.

Teams:

South Africa: Dean Elgar (capt), Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi.

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Risabh Pant (wkt), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus, Adrian Holdstock (both RSA).

TV umpire: Allahuddien Paleker (RSA).

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM).

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