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    Murali Vijay talks up openers-club rapport

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    On the eve of the third Test in New Delhi, all three of India's openers - Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul - got ample batting time in the nets. And not for the first time. For those watching and trying to decode team combinations from the practice sessions - particularly at the top of the order - it would've been a futile Friday. It is a sign of great progress that India can't clearly classify two of them as first-choice and a third as the backup opener.

     

     

    Since the Boxing Day Test of 2014 in Melbourne, in which KL Rahul made his debut, India have played 32 games in the format - with Dhawan playing in 15, Vijay in 22 and Rahul in 21 of those. India's consistent success - 21 wins, 2 draws and 9 defeats - has meant that there has been very little to separate the three, leaving the think-tank with tough decisions to make.

     

     

    One such was at the start of the series - Murali Vijay had returned after recovering from a wrist injury and commanded a spot in the line-up after having finished as India's third-highest scorer in the 2016-17 home season. But, Shikhar Dhawan's whirlwind performances in Sri Lanka put him ahead on the list. After the Kolkata game, Dhawan sat out due to personal reasons, and Vijay marked his comeback with a century, leaving the decision-makers in a quandary again.

     

     

    In such a cut-throat environment, the trio has hit the sweet spot between competition and camaraderie, if Vijay is to be believed. Ahead of the third Test, Vijay fielded questions on dealing with sitting out and if it was unsettling to not know who your regular opening partner would be. The 33-year-old provided an interesting take on the situation and explained the importance of getting along well away from the field.

     

     

    "We three are very good friends off the field and it makes it much easier. Definitely, it [shuffling around] unsettles the opener who is playing regularly. Obviously, we three are in good rapport outside the field and that will help us big time in the series coming ahead and in the future," Vijay said.

     

     

    The good relationship must definitely help as Vijay explains. Enjoying each others' success has often been spoken of as a salient characteristic of players of a champion side. And yet, when the final decision is made and two out of three are picked, one is bound to be left unhappy, uncertain and on the periphery. Vijay goes on to explain how their strong bonding helps them in putting each other at ease when one of them has to sit out.

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