India and Tamil Nadu opener M Vijay is confident of accomplishing his “dream” of winning the Ranji Trophy for his state before he quits the game. That said, he was “hurt” by the manner in which he was left out of the Tamil Nadu side after he “failed to report” for the Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Mumbai on October 8.
After Vijay had apparently informed Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar of a “shoulder pain” on the morning of the match, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) said that the state body, the selectors and the physio were unaware of his injury. He was subsequently replaced with young batsman Pradosh Ranjan Paul for the remaining matches in the tournament.
While the TNCA was understood to be unhappy with Vijay’s “attitude” over a period of time, Kanitkar was the lone voice of support for Vijay, saying he had known about the opener’s injury. He acknowledged the possibility of a communication gap and also vouched for Vijay’s commitment towards Tamil Nadu.
Vijay felt things “could have been handled better”. “I just feel sad for whatever that has happened. Things could have been handled better,” he told reporters in Chennai on Wednesday, after the conclusion of a TNCA first-division league match where he scored a hundred for his club side Jolly Rovers. “I’m set to talk with the TNCA officials soon and I feel things will be fine.
“I felt let down that my commitment was questioned and I was hurt. I love playing for Tamil Nadu and take a lot of pride in representing the state. My dream is to win the Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu, and I’m confident it will happen.”
Vijay played Tamil Nadu’s first two matches in the 50-overs Vijay Hazare Trophy, against Gujarat and Goa, and scored 11 and 51. His absence was a blow to an already beleaguered side, which had failed to qualify for the knockouts of the Ranji Trophy and finished fifth out of seven in the league phase of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Vijay had no illusions about the fact that much work remained for Tamil Nadu, should they want silverware.
“We have a long road ahead,” he said. “We need to sit and think about what went wrong and work on it. I am going to win the Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu for sure before I hang up my boots. I am clear on that part. It is about when that is going to happen. I want Tamil Nadu to do well for not just one year, but three to four years in a row.”
Vijay himself had an underwhelming outing in his most recent international assignment against South Africa, where six innings fetched him 102 runs at an average of 17. He acknowledged that he did not spend enough time in the middle. “It all boils down to shot selection. At times, it tends to happen at that level,” he said. “Again, they had some good bowlers. They kept it in the good areas, and the wicket was also a bit difficult to negotiate. It was good learning, as a top-order batsman. I am just hoping to apply what I’ve learnt over there in the future.”