The IPL can be a ruthless territory where failures are not easily tolerated and receiving an opportunity can be hard.
Breaking into the eleven can be difficult for a domestic Indian cricketer, more so in a strong, well-settled unit such as the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Ask Vijay Shankar, among the most promising all-rounders in the country, someone who impressed the legendary Rahul Dravid while turning out for India ‘A’.
The strongly-built 26-year-old Chennai cricketer captains Tamil Nadu in the shorter formats but has only made fleeting appearances for his franchise.
“It can be frustrating but travelling with Sunrisers has been a big, learning experience. You pick up different things from leading players such as David Warner, you keep yourself ready and evolve,” said Vijay Shankar in a conversation with Sportstar on Wednesday.
He elaborated, “Just watching a game from the dugout, seeing the field-placements and understanding the plans, opens up your mind even if you are not playing.”
Vijay Shankar got only one look-in, in an away game against Mumbai Indians, and the chance appeared and disappeared in a hurry.
A powerful striker of the ball, Vijay Shankar came in to bat late in the 18thover and was dismissed first ball of the 19th to Lasith Malinga. “I had to go for runs straightway. I was disappointed but these things happen,” he said.
And he did not get to send down his medium pacers in the match.
Vijay Shankar keeps learning though. Interacting with two phenomenal cricketers from the past in the Sunrisers set-up, Muttiah Muralitharan and V.V.S. Laxman, has been a rewarding experience.
“Muralitharan Sir has so much knowledge about the art of bowling. Even though I am a paceman, he keeps coming up with interesting suggestions in the nets. And Laxman Sir, such a simple man for all his achievements, is always willing to share his thoughts,” Vijay Shankar said.
His injury worries behind, the cricketer has been sweating it out at the nets, whether expanding his range of shots or getting more bite off the pitch with his seamers.
Crucially, Vijay Shankar is working on shortening his strides so that he stands tall and releases the ball from a higher action. “I want to bowl with a high arm action so that I get more bounce off the pitch and utilise my height.”
He is a brilliant fielder too – Vijay Shankar invariably appears as a substitute for Sunrisers and plucks catches out of thin air.
The responsibility of leading Tamil Nadu in Twenty20 and one-day games has seen Vijay Shankar grow in stature. He led astutely and chipped in with timely contributions with the bat and the ball as the State team triumphed in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy one-day competitions.
Given his attributes, more IPL action could be just around the corner for this ambitious all-rounder.
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