India’s Vijay blissfully unaware in Brisbane

(Reuters) – Indian batsman Murali Vijay struck arguably the most memorable of his five test centuries yesterday but later admitted to being unaware of reaching the milestone in the second test against Australia at Gabba.

The opener hit Shane Watson for back-to-back boundaries to reach the 100-mark but it was only after his batting partner Ajinkya Rahane prompted him that Vijay looked at the scoreboard before taking his helmet off for a subdued celebration.

“I was just thinking about the next five run target for the team,” said the 30-year-old, who fell for 99 in the second innings of the first test in Adelaide which Australia won by 48 runs.

“I was not really aware, I knew I was close to the 100 but I didn’t know how much I needed. It was great feeling to have without knowing because last week I was on 99 and I was aware of it and didn’t get it.

“This match I was not aware of it and I got it, I think that’s how it works.”

Vijay’s 144 at Brisbane underlined his liking for the Australian bowlers, having scored four of his five test centuries against them.

On a ground notoriously harsh on visiting openers, Vijay’s third successive 50-plus knock was a fluent, if not flawless, display of elegant batting.

Shaun Marsh twice dropped him, first on 36 and then on 102, off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson.

“You can only go close to perfection, I think I did pretty well today,” Vijay added.

Twenty two boundaries flowed from Vijay’s blade but equally importantly, the natural stroke-maker was leaving the ball well early in his innings, the unmistakable sign of a confident batsman.

Often described as a free-scoring, risk-courting batsman, Vijay smartly paced his innings too, scoring 39 runs off his first 50 balls before slowing down to score 15 off the next 50.

Hailing from Tamil Nadu, he coped with the sweltering Brisbane heat better than most but looked pretty much spent by the end of his five-and-half-hour vigil.

Vijay perished swinging his bat, aiming to clear the mid-off only to be caught behind to off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

It was a soft dismissal for a batsman who had joined hands with Shikhar Dhawan to stitch together India’s first 50-plus opening stand in an away test since at Lord’s in 2011.

“It’s a good knock and I’m really happy that a lot of shots I wanted to play in the gaps came out correctly so I’m just happy about it,” he said.

“It was mentally challenging, but when you are playing for your country you’ve got to do your stuff to the best of your ability.”

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