Despite contesting along with the likes of Rohit Sharma or Hardik Pandya for the number 6 spot in Team India’s Test XI, Hanuma Vihari showed no nerves and sealed the spot in his favour with a memorable show against West Indies in the two-Test series on Caribbean shores. Vihari not only secured his position in India’s famed batting unit in Test cricket but also carved a niche for himself by showcasing his nonchalance attitude to bail the team out of pressure situations. Being in the shadow of modern-day great Virat Kohli, red-ball specialist Wall Cheteshwar Pujara, overseas specialist Ajinkya Rahane – Vihari’s job was not easy but his bat more often than not justified his inclusion in the XI.

The 25-year-old was easily one of the finds for Indian cricket this season in Test cricket. From emerging as the Team India’s top scorer in the recent tour of the West Indies – 289 runs at an average of 96.33, Vihari bagged the “Man of the Series” award for his consistent performances.

After proving himself in overseas conditions, Vihar is now excited to play his first Test at home with series against South Africa beginning in Visakhapatnam on October 2. He made his debut in England in September last year, has played six Tests but all out of India. He averages 45.60 and scored his maiden ton in the previous away series against the West Indies.

“First time, I will be playing international in India for India. It is very exciting. That too in Vizag, my home association. I am looking forward to it,” he said on Thursday.

The middle-order batsman was speaking on the sidelines of a felicitation function organised for him on by his alma mater St. John’s Sports Coaching Foundation.

Vihari said he has been preparing for the South Africa series at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. “Last 15 days, I have been at NCA. I have been preparing well for the South African series,” he said.

Asked if he would confine himself to Tests, Vihari said it is not in his hands and that he is ready to play in all formats given a chance. Team India fielding coach R Sridhar was also felicitated on the occasion.

Veteran cricketer VVS Laxman, who is also an alumnus of St. John’s Sports Coaching Foundation, was present too. Speaking at the event, Vihari said he was happy that Sridhar, who had trained him since his younger days, was present in the dressing room when he scored his maiden hundred.

“Obviously, it was very fitting that Sridhar sir was there in the dressing room when I got my first hundred. I can only imagine how emotional he was and it was a special day. Obviously, he was there throughout, starting of my career to till now, he was always there. As I said, it is very fitting that he was there in the dressing room, Vihari said.

Laxman appreciated Vihari for the determination shown as a young cricketer and Sridhar for his stellar contribution to the Indian team.