A little less than three years ago, all-rounder Hardik Pandya replaced an injured Vijay Shankar in India A squad to Australia, eventually breaking into the Test and ODI sides.
Cut to January 2019, and life has come a full circle for Shankar who has been called up as a replacement for Pandya in India's limited-overs squad Down Under.
Pandya has been suspended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for his controversial remarks on a television show.
“I don’t know how to see this. There is no doubt about the fact that cricket is a great leveller, and that is (evident by the fact) that at that time, I got injured and he replaced me, and now, I am going as his replacement,” Shankar tells Sportstar.
The 27-year-old will leave Chennai late on Sunday and needs to reach Adelaide before the second ODI on January 15. Although unsure whether he will get a chance to feature in the final eleven, Shankar hopes to make the most of whatever opportunity comes his way.
“Every game will be a learning curve for me. It is basically about how quickly I can read the conditions and adapt to it. That will be a big thing.
"I won’t have much time before the first game. Whether I play or not is secondary, but the most important thing is to read and analyse the conditions as quickly as possible,” Shankar says.
His familiarity with the conditions in New Zealand and Australia could hold him in good stead, but Shankar is cautious. “I am not sure if the conditions are same as they were two months ago,” he says.
A seam-bowling all-rounder, Shankar failed to leave a mark on his maiden outing for India — during the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka last year — but has made his presence felt for the A side.
He was the team’s highest run-scorer in its recent series against New Zealand A, and averages 48.55 from 14 India A limited-over games.
As he returns to the national team after 10 months, Shankar says, “I am just going to learn and improve every day. From Nidahas Trophy to now, I have come a long way and I have done well in most of the tournaments, be it the IPL or the India A tours.
“There are good things that I have learned both on and off the field. It will be important for me to just go there and look to do the same thing that I have been doing all this while."
Losing out on the India spot following the disappointment of the Nidahas Trophy was a reality check for Shankar, but hard work has ensured that he gets another crack at making the cut.
“I just feel I am doing the right things and only focusing on my job. I am giving my best every time I take the field,” he says.
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