Hyderabad: G. H. Vihari is the latest from Hyderabad to make the Indian cricket team. On Wednesday night he was picked for the fourth and fifth Tests of the ongoing series in England.
Former Hyderabad cricketer Nagesh Hammond had recommended Vihari to coach John Manoj. “The day he joined our academy I knew he had it in him — he was timing the ball so well,” John recalls.
“A sincere, committed and ambitious player, Vihari was always hungry for runs, and got them by the hundreds,” John says, before encapsulating his die-hard attitude. “A day after his father passed away (Vihari was just 12 then) he smashed an unbeaten 82 and won the schools trophy for St Andrews, which provided for his education.”
From schools, Vihari grew too fast. A flurry of runs meant he raced through the Hyderabad Under 16, U-19, U-22 age groups and into the Ranji Trophy side, when he was only 17. Soon, he got the big one — a near double century (191) against mighty Mumbai that got him national recognition. That put him into the India U-19 and India ‘A’ sides, one step away from the senior team. “I don’t know where I would’ve been had it not been for those scores,” he says.
For the last two years, Vihari has been playing for the Andhra Cricket Association, where he pushed the envelope. “I challenged myself to play for India and decided to move out of my comfort zone. The effort has paid off,” he smiles.
In his moment of joy, Vihari is grateful to people who have kept him going. “A lot of people have helped me in my cricketing journey — my mother, family and friends, my coaches especially John Manoj and Sridhar Sirs. Many have made sacrifices, for which I am very thankful,” he says, adding, “We have been through difficult times when I was 12 or 13 years old. Cricket was the only way I could help my family — homemaker mother Vijayalakshmi and sister Vaishnavi who is pursuing her MBA.”
Competitive on the field, Vihari is a selfless person off it. “He donated a bowling machine imported from London that was presented to him by his uncle, to our academy saying ‘in here, others too can make the best use of it while they practice,” his coach John says.