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Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 Australia Tour of India - India Vs Australia Third Test @ Ranchi March 16-20,2017- Murali Vijay Plays his 50th Test Match

The third  Test match between India and Australia starting Thursday March 16,2017 in Ranchi will be a little bit special for one player - Murali Vijay in his 50th game.

The 32-year-old opener has tallied 3307 runs in 49 Tests at an average of 39.84, with nine centuries and 14 half-centuries.

On the occasion of  Murali Vijay's 50th Test, here are five of his best performances.

167 v Australia, Hyderabad 2013

This hundred was overshadowed by Cheteshwar Pujara's 204, but it was no less valuable.

Batting with the poise and concentration of a batsman who could have been in his 40th Test, Vijay ground out 167 from 361 balls in 473 minutes, with Pujara putting on a record 370 for the second wicket. That alliance shoved Australia (who made 237 in their first innings) out of the match. Vijay hit 23 fours and two sixes, but the sedate approach was understandable from a batsman who in his previous Test had 10 and 6 with his last dismissal leaving him peeved. If he was unsure of his place heading into the Hyderabad Test, that century dispelled all doubts.

146 v England, Nottingham 2014

Out of India's first innings of 457 at Trent Bridge, Vijay made 146 off 361 balls. The next best was MS Dhoni's 82. When Vijay was out, India were 304/5. In this time, Shikhar Dhawan, Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane had contributed 83 runs combined. The only Indian batsman to take full advantage of conditions which were a stark departure from what Trent Bridge usually offers, Vijay drove and clipped his way 50 runs in 68 balls, and then settled in to eat up 146 for his next 50 as the situation slipped for India. Serene all throughout his time at the crease, Vijay followed up with 52 in the second innings.

95 v England, Lord's 2014

Vijay's decision to be cautious and watchful proved a real bonus for India during the 2014 tour of England, and in the second innings at Lord's he was a rock around which the innings grew. Batting with Zen-like focus, Vijay kept England's bowlers at bay for 247 deliveries for a watchful 95; he added 78 for the second wicket with Pujara, but looked on as three wickets fell for five runs on the third evening. Digging even deeper, Vijay batted to 59 at stumps but on the fourth morning lost MS Dhoni and Stuart Binny in a matter of minutes. Unperturbed, he kept his focus as Ravindra Jadeja batted aggressively until falling five runs short of having his name etched onto the Honours Boards. Vijay's strike-rate in the second innings was 38.46, but that go-slow approach played a huge role in India pushing for a famous win. Vijay became the second Indian batsman to fall in the nineties in a Test match at Lord's - Rahul Dravid also made 95 in 1996 - but in the overall picture, that 95 was as good as any century.

144 v Australia, Brisbane 2014 

The scorecard shows you that Australia won by four wickets. That indicates a bit of a scrap for the home team, but tells you nothing of the oppressive conditions and quality of bowling that was on display across the four days that this second Test match of the 2013-14 Border-Gavaskar Trophy played at the Gabba. This was Vijay's piece de resistance, the innings by which he could be valued when his career comes to a close. It was stinking hot - some scribers called it a furnace - but Vijay stood up to be counted, batting 213 balls and 332 minutes for that sapping 144 out of a first-innings total of 408. So fixated was Vijay on the task at hand that he did not register the fact that a flowing cover-driven four off Shane Watson had brought up his fourth Test hundred against Australia. Having been cruelly out for 99 in Adelaide, Vijay raised his bat.

75 and 47 v South Africa, Mohali 2015

Back in the XI after missing India's previous Test, Vijay's twin innings proved more than crucial to a 108-run win on a treacherous surface. While Dean Elgar's part-time left-arm spin stunned India on what was a raging turner, Vijay looked unfettered by the various bowling changes and wickets they produced, batting with solidity and the odd shot of flair such as the times he dashed out to Simon Harmer and twice crashed boundaries over extra cover. Vija looked on course for a hundred before he tried to sweep Harmer was struck in front of middle. In India's second innings, Vijay made 47 from 105 balls to carry the team from 9/1 in the presence of Pujara who top-scored with 77. Subtract thos two innings and victory would not have been possible. 

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