Who is Murali Vijay?
Murali Vijay is an Indian international cricketer who plays as a right-handed opening batsman. Thanks to his ability to transform opening overs into big partnerships in the domestic cricket, he was selected to tour with the national team as a reserve batsman. He utilized every opportunity to perform while replacing regular top-order batsmen, and eventually cemented his place in the national team. While he has been a regular member of the Indian team in all three formats, he has not been able to perform consistently. Nevertheless, he has showed his hard-hitting skills in IPL, scoring two centuries for Chennai Super Kings. He played for the team for six seasons and has been instrumental in their victories in two IPL seasons and one Champions League T20 series. He was later sold to Delhi Daredevils, and then to Kings XI Punjab, but he is now back to his home team.
Childhood & Early Life
Murali Vijay was born on April 1, 1984 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu into a well-educated family. His father Murali is a businessman, while his mother Lakshmi is a housewife. He has a younger sister, Vidya, who excelled academically and later moved to the US to work for Google.
Despite his family background, Vijay was not interested in 'bookish knowledge' during his childhood days. He failed in his 12th standard exams, while his sister got 98 percent marks. He subsequently left home to 'find' himself and began playing in snooker parlors to win money. He also joined a business.
Vijay had many older college-going friends who helped him out when he was homeless and slept in parks. He shared a bed-less hostel room with others for six months. Upon clearing the board exam, he enrolled in Vivekananda College in Mylapore, Chennai, which was reputed for promoting sports, especially cricket. It was exactly what he needed as he had been playing cricket since the age of nine
At the age of 17, after Vijay failed to make it into the U-19 state team, he started focusing on college cricket. It was here that he played with the leather ball for the first time. He was soon spotted by former national bowling coach Bharat Arun who offered him to play for Chemplast team in Chennai’s club cricket league.
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Murali Vijay, who represented Alwarpet in club cricket in 2003, was called to the Tamil Nadu Under-22 squad for the 2004-05 CK Nayudu Trophy. His team won despite his average performance. After playing club cricket for another year, he was called back to the squad for the next edition of the tournament, but failed to impress this time either.
Nevertheless, he got the opportunity to make his senior cricket debut against Karnataka. He later played against Railways, but scored only 17 and 38 runs respectively. However, it all changed during his first-class debut in 2006-07 Ranji Trophy. He finished as the third-highest run-scorer with 628 runs to his credit. His average was 52.33 and his highest score was 179.
Vijay followed up his success in the Ranji Trophy season 2007-08, scoring 582 runs, including two centuries, at an average of 58.2. He scored an unbeaten 230 against Saurashtra. While he failed to shine after being selected in the South Zone squad for 2007-08 Duleep Trophy, he made back-to-back hundreds against Hyderabad and Andhra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
He continued his good form while playing for the India A team against the touring New Zealand A team in September 2008. He was subsequently called to open for India Red team for the Challenger Trophy in October, during which he became the second-highest run-getter.
Thanks to his massive 462-run opening partnership with Abhinav Mukund in Ranji Trophy, Murali Vijay was called in to replace banned Gautam Gambhir in the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in November 2008. Opening with Virender Sehwag, Vijay scored 33 and 40 to put up partnerships of 98 and 116 respectively. He also showed off his fielding skills with two run-outs and a catch to his credit.
He bagged a spot in the Indian ODI squad for the first three matches against the touring England team, but did not get to play due to the return of Sachin Tendulkar from a break. His next Test opportunity came in December 2009 when Gambhir was on a leave during the third Test against Sri Lanka. Vijay registered a 221-run partnership with Sehwag, but got out on 87.
He toured with the Indian team as a reserve batsman and got his next opportunities when he replaced injured V. V. S. Laxman in Bangladesh and Rahul Dravid in South Africa. He then replaced injured Gambhir in the second Test against Australia in October 2010, in which he made his maiden Test century. He scored 139 that included a triple century partnership with Tendulkar. Despite the knock, he was dropped from the squad.
Murali Vijay played for his home team Chennai Super Kings in initial six seasons of IPL, helping the team win two consecutive titles in 2010 and 2011 with his 56-ball-127 and 52-ball-95. He was also the top scorer in the team's successful campaign in the Champions League T20 held in South Africa. A year later, he scored a 59-ball-113 against Delhi Daredevils in an IPL match in Chennai.
He replaced an out-of-form Gautam Gambhir in the home series against Australia in 2013. In the second Test, he scored his second Test hundred (167) and made a record second wicket partnership of 370 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara. It was followed by a 289-run opening partnership with Shikhar Dhawan, which consisted of Vijay’s second consecutive 150+ score (153). He finished the series as the highest run-scorer with 430 runs that also included a half century.
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During India's tour to England in July 2014, he made his first overseas century at Trent Bridge, scoring 146. He got out on 95 at Lord's but still finished as the top-scorer in that series with 402 runs. During India's Australia tour later that year, he scored a crucial 99 and put on a partnership of 185 runs with his skipper Virat Kohli. It was followed by a score of 144 in the next match.
In June 2015, Vijay hit his sixth Test century against Bangladesh in the single-match Test series. Vijay became the captain of Kings XI Punjab in April 2016 by replacing David Miller mid-season.
In February 2017, Vijay scored 108 runs that took India’s score to 388 in the first Test inning against Bangladesh. With a total score of 687, India won the match by 208 runs.
Vijay was not selected for the Sri Lanka Test series in July 2017 due to a wrist injury. In 2018, Vijay returned to Chennai Super Kings.
He was selected for the England Test series, but was dropped after two Tests. The Indian opener decided to join Essex for the county season of 2018.
Vijay hit a ton against Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship, leading Essex to their fifth win in the series. He scored 56 and 100 in both innings respectively.
After publicly declaring that he was facing “communication issues” with Indian selectors, there was a bit of back-and-forth between him and BCCI in 2018. He however was later selected for the Australia Test series.
Awards & Achievements
Murali Vijay scored 243 runs for Tamil Nadu in November 2008 to build a 462-run opening partnership with Abhinav Mukund, just two runs short of the previous record.
Family & Personal Life
Murali Vijay met Nikita Vanjara, the then wife of cricketer Dinesh Karthik, during the fifth edition of IPL in 2012, and they became involved soon after. Upon learning about their relationship, Karthik immediately divorced Vanjara, following which she and Vijay hurriedly got married the same year.
Nikita was pregnant with her first child at the time of her divorce, and she gave birth to son Nirav in 2013. The couple have since then welcomed a daughter named Iva and another son.
Murali Vijay had a bad boy image while growing up and often did things like pushing girls into the swimming pool for fun.
He got the nickname 'Monk' when he drank 'Old Monk’ rum, given by a senior player on a freezing night while they were in Delhi for a match.