Growing up, representing India in the World Cup was a dream that fired Vijay Shankar. Dreams do come true. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder is now in the squad for the World Cup in England.
Vijay Shankar told The Hindu on Monday, “I was with my friend for 15 years from Chennai, now working in Hyderabad, watching the news on television. I knew the team would be announced any moment and I was nervous. Then came happiness.”
A natural shotmaker with timing and balance, an improving paceman and a brilliant fielder, Vijay Shankar’s career has been plagued by injuries.
“I have worked hard on my fitness, put that phase behind me,” the 28-year-old said.
His maiden World Cup will be a challenging one with no lightweights in the fray. “It is a competitive field but we are a very good team with tremendous spirit. We are confident,” he said.
Vijay Shankar has already impressed coach Ravi Shastri with his ability to bat differently in varied situations.
For instance, on a seaming track in Wellington this year, India was struggling at 18 for four against New Zealand, when Vijay Shankar’s solid and circumspect 45 put the Indian innings back on the road.
Then, he blitzed a 28-ball 43 in the Twenty20 International in Hamilton. Although he has the big shots, his batting approach is flexible. Crucially, his game is built on a sound defence and he is solid off his back-foot.
Vijay Shankar is an evolving paceman. “I have put in a lot of work on my bowling. I am running in well, the ball is coming out of the hand nicely.”
He is bowling at around 132kmph and has honed his skills with India bowling coach B. Arun. “I have been hitting the seam more regularly, I have also been focusing on yorkers.”
His last over of the innings enabled India clinch the Nagpur ODI, a humdinger, when he removed a well-set Marcus Stoinis with a delivery that reversed.
While his batting is his strength, the presence of Vijay Shankar gives the Indian team another bowling option, particularly in the English conditions.
Vijay Shankar can’t wait for the World Cup to begin. “I have been following World Cups since I was 11 years old. The competition inspires me. The feeling was great when India triumphed in 2011.”
In England, Vijay Shankar will be living a dream.