Vijay Shankar has seen freak injuries trouble him regularly. The all-rounder's maiden World Cup campaign in 2019 was cut short due to a toe injury midway through the tournament. He had to deal with a cut in his thumb webbing while playing for India 'A' in September.
Shankar was frustrated and disappointed but did not lose heart as he spent his recovery time with the Tamil Nadu state team and Chepauk Super Gillies in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. He made a strong come back by playing a key role in TN's run into the finals in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy.
The 28-year old was rewarded for his performances as he was handed TN's captaincy for the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 season.
“I don’t want to crib about those injuries but, at times, I have felt why God is so harsh on me. It was probably to test me and make me a stronger person that I am now today,” Shankar told Sportstar, on Saturday.
Lying on the recovery table at frequent intervals can break hearts and careers, but in Vijay Shankar's case it has made him appreciate the good times and make the most of them.
More than anything, he felt that being out of the game was what hurt him the most. “I must have missed a year or so of First Class cricket through injuries. It’s a long period, but I have always kept that away and made it a point to come back.
“I learnt it all from R. Prasanna (current assistant coach). I have seen him play those important knocks early on in my career and I went up to seek his guidance though the Tamil Nadu squad had some big names in the list,” said Vijay, whose journey with the state squad began eight years ago.
“The other players did outstanding things, but I must admit that it was Prasanna’s special contribution that had an impact on me,” he added.
Vijay Shankar, who has hit five hundreds and 15 half-centuries and averages 46, said he always put the team ahead of himself. “I could have got more 100s, but in many of those matches, I had to bat with the tailenders and try and steer the team home.”
“Even last year, when I came straight from New Zealand, I reached at 3.30 in the morning and played the match against Punjab. Tamil Nadu was on the back foot at 50 for four, if I remember right, and I got a 75. Against New Zealand, I chipped in a 45 when the team was struggling at 18 for four. These were the knocks that gave me satisfaction more than even a century. They are memorable to me and that’s why I got to play a few more games for India.”
About the way he likes to go about his business, Vijay Shankar said: “I am one who always wants to make my presence felt. I can change a game even with my fielding and I have done that several times,” he said.
He revealed that there were quite a few who had advised him to change his style.
“I will not because it has given me so much happiness, People may come with lots of ideas but my muscle memory is tuned to this. But, if my coach (S. Balaji) feels I need to do something, I may think about it,” he said.
Tough times never last but the tough ones do, as Vijay Shankar keeps proving time and again.
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