'I wanted to lead by example' - Hanuma Vihari on batting with broken wrist in Ranji quarterfinal
Hanuma Vihari explained his motivation behind coming out to bat as a left-hander in both innings of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal versus Madhya Pradesh despite a broken left wrist.
The Andhra skipper, who emerged as a pillar of strength, courage and inspiration to his teammates, was seen batting like a left-hander in the middle after receiving a blow to his left forearm very early into the contest while fending a bouncer from MP seamer Avesh Khan.
He was on 16* in the first-innings at the time and was forced to leave the field retired hurt. In a brave move, however, the Indian international came out to bat again after quick medical treatment but did so as a left-hander, with only his right hand capable of holding the bat. He extended his stay for another 11 runs in an amazing effort before being dismissed.
One assumed at the time that it would be the last piece of action Hanuma Vihari is taking part in for the knock-out fixture. But to everyone's disbelief, he opted to bat again as a left-hander in the second-innings for Andhra, walking in as a No.11 to make 15 off 16 balls.
Vihari explains move to bat with broken wrist in Ranji knock-out
Unfortunately for Vihari, his resilience, grit and bravery couldn't push Andra to a victory and that ended their tournament hopes. But the qualities exhibited by the man only inspired his teammates for future campaigns.
It also reminded Indian fans of his equally gritty and wholesome effort at the SCG against Australia when he battled on with a torn hamstring to save the New Year's Test in 2021 alongside also-injured R Ashwin.
Speaking in an interview with ESPNcricinfo after the quarterfinal, Vihari explained how he decided to bat left-handed with a broken wrist and what compelled him to do it.
"I just wanted to go out in [on] the field and show that I don't want to just be retired out and not be able to contribute," he said. "Even if I got out first ball, it wouldn't matter, but I just wanted to be there on the ground, show our team that I'm there to fight for the team, [and] if I do that, then the rest ten of us will definitely give their best to win the game for the side. So that was the main intention."
"And it was an important game for Andhra: we qualified through a tough group, and we came into the quarters, so I wanted to lead by example, showing the right way forward for my team. Actually, we fought hard after that. Unfortunately, the result didn't go our way," he added.
Vihari revealed a conversation he had with Andhra's team physio Deep Tomar when he was sitting in the dressing room retired hurt, with his team well placed at 262/2, feeling encouraged and relieved that he may not be required to bat again. Tomar told him straight at the time: 'I wouldn't advise you to bat because if you get hit again, you might need a surgery'
But then a mini-collapse turned into a proper mess as Andhra slipped from a position of strength to 353/9, losing their last seven wickets for only another 97 runs. Vihari said he had earlier checked his left wrist and he was in no position to grip the bat but that collapse inspired him to do something extraordinary.
"I looked at my other hand, and then I thought why not try to bat left-handed; just a thought came into my mind," he said. "Then I told the coach that I want to try to bat left-handed with one hand. The coach said, "Whatever you feel right, go ahead and do it".
"My teammates helped me actually put on the pads and every protection I needed: chest pad and arm guard. I tried to have a knock in the dressing room itself. I played a few balls [left-handed], then said, 'Let me go ahead, and just try and add few runs for the team'."