A career blighted by injuries is finally up and running. Vijay Shankar is now making the big moves. “I want to be a match-winner for India,” said Shankar to Sportstar here on Tuesday.
It does appear that this batting all-rounder may gatecrash his way into the Indian team for the World Cup. He could be that dangerous floater the Indian team seeks in the English conditions.
As he showed in New Zealand, the 28-year-old can build an innings if early wickets are lost with technical nous and cultured strokeplay.
His 45 of focus and solidity enabled India to recover from a precarious 18 for four and build a platform for an eventual victory in the Wellington ODI.
If that innings showcased Shankar’s composure, tight game and measured aggression, his 28-ball 43 in the Hamilton Twenty20 International — when the ball zipped around for the seamers — displayed another aspect of his batting.
Shankar can be a brutal striker of the ball, hitting through the straight-field, pulling, cutting and whipping off his legs.
Interestingly, the Indian team-management showed the confidence to send him at No. 3. And the cricketer delivered with his blitzkrieg. Shankar has worked on power hitting with coach S. Balaji. He practices range hitting and uses the RobotArm. The all-rounder generates force with his bat-speed, shoulders and wrists.
He has clearly impressed Ravi Shastri. The Indian coach believes Shankar has, both, the attacking and the defensive games.
“Shastri Sir told me he liked the way I batted. His words gave me a lot of confidence. And (Bharat) Arun sir said I was consistent with the ball. I wanted to bowl in the right areas. The team was very welcoming, I learnt a lot” said Shankar.
Fitting the bill
And this Indian team seeks versatility, different methods for different conditions and situations and the ability to bat at different slots. Shankar fits the bill.
He brings some valuable qualities with him. He is a handy seamer and an agile fielder. Whenever given the ball, Shankar sent down his seamers with control.
At 130 kmph, he is not the quickest bowlers around but could be useful in England with his ability to bowl around the off-stump and extract some lift with his height and high-arm action.
Actually, it was disciplinary action against the mercurial Hardik Pandya that opened the pathway for Shankar. He joined the team down under and has shown efficiency, adaptability and team-spirit.
Then, when Hardik joined the team in New Zealand, both played together. Hardik and Shankar in the same eleven makes the team more dynamic and vibrant, lends it greater depth.
Vijay Shankar, given his qualities and the conditions in England, is on course for a World Cup spot.