Vijay Shankar got his national break in T20 in 2018, before making his ODI debut in January this year. In less than four months, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder has made it to India's World Cup team.
His inclusion in the 15-member squad, announced on Monday, has triggered inevitable debate in Indian cricketing fandom, especially his batting position.
The chairman of selection committee, M. S. K. Prasad, said Shankar is looked at as India's No. 4 batsman for the quadrennial tournament.
“Vijay Shankar gives three dimensions. He can bat, if the conditions are overcast, he can bowl, plus he is a fielder,” Prasad said.
“After the Champions Trophy (in 2017), we have tried quite a few batsmen in the middle order. We also tried Dinesh Karthik at the top of the order. Then there were Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey.
"Vijay Shankar can (also) bowl, if the conditions are overcast, he might bowl a bit and he's a fantastic fielder, that's the thing that went in his favour. He (Shankar) is a batsman, who can bowl,” Prasad added.
READ| Team India for World Cup 2019: Karthik, Jadeja, Shankar in squad, Pant misses out
While K. L. Rahul has, according to Prasad, been picked as the backup opener, Shankar has beaten Ambati Rayudu, a more natural choice for the No. 4 slot, to make the final 15.
A little less than three years ago, all-rounder Hardik Pandya replaced an injured Shankar in India A squad to Australia, eventually breaking into the Test and ODI sides.
Cut to January 2019, and life came a full circle for Shankar who was called up as a replacement for Pandya in India's limited-overs squad Down Under.
READ| Vijay Shankar not thinking about World Cup squad selection
Pandya was 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,” Vijay told Sportstar.
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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.
Returning to the national team after 10 months, Vijay had said, “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."
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.
By making it into the World Cup squad, the 28-year-old all-rounder has achieved a feat which has eluded some greats of the game such as V.V.S. Laxman.
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