Vijay Shankar not in a hurry for international comeback

Tamil Nadu cricketer Shankar's primary focus now is to do well for any team that he represents. The rest, he believes, will fall in place.

Vijay Shankar, who had a dream start to the World Cup 2019 with a first-ball wicket against Pakistan, has since been laid low by a series of injuries.   -  AFP

Vijay Shankar did not chase the World Cup 2019 berth. It came as a surprise, on the basis of all-round skill-sets and performances for Tamil Nadu and India A; sad that a toe injury at the nets ruled him out after three games. The fixture against the West Indies in Manchester remains his last appearance for India.

There was a thumb injury in between that extended his absence. It’s been a while but the 29-year-old is not breaking his head over the issue. “I generally don’t think where I stand or what I should do to get back into the Indian side. Last year, I never thought I will get into the World Cup,” Shankar told Sportstar on Saturday.

At the time of global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic with the IPL in limbo, Shankar — who represents Sunrisers Hyderabad — has set up a sweet thinking space. He wants to sit back, collect his thoughts and have a crack afresh once the COVID-19 storm is over. He stressed on the importance of performing and winning games for any team he represents.

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This, perhaps, is the time to think about scoring fifties, 100s, pick up five-fors and plan for the future. “My basic thinking is wherever I play, I should look to win matches for the team. If I keep doing it, I am sure I will go back playing for the country. I have to keep improving my cricket so that I can be the best for my team,” he is clear.

Pack of all-rounders

After 12 ODIs and nine T20Is, Shankar is constantly being compared to Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube — all three being batsmen cum seamers  — and when you talk about achievements, his bowling effort against Australia in the Nagpur ODI and the two wickets against Pakistan in the Cup stand out.

Though a sound batsman, the bat didn’t talk as much as he would have wanted it to. At least not how it operates in the domestic circuit. Shankar is 2,000+ runs and two hundreds old in List A cricket. In the blue jersey, there are a couple of 40s here and there and a big score is pending.

The tour of New Zealand with India A was a learning point for Shankar, the batsman. “I feel I could have finished a game this year but I missed out. The last time I was there, I had finished a couple of games which helped me get into the Indian side. When you are batting down the order, you won’t get many opportunities so it is important to grab that one chance. It is not that I got out early or struggled. I batted well and scored 41 [before falling to James Neesham]. If I had finished it, then it could have been different but that was a learning experience where I just told myself what I could have done in that situation to prolong the innings,” he revealed.

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No practice for lockdown

Despite having a practice facility at home, Shankar is not using it for now. “I am doing a bit of training at home with the basic equipment that I have. A little bit of shadow practice but can’t do more than this.

“I have a practice facility but I thought of not doing it there now. Someone had to come and help me out, so the person had to travel [which would mean breaking the social distancing law]. So I am not calling anyone till the government makes an official statement [that the disease is in control],” he said.

Shankar is confident that there will be ample time to train when normal life resumes. He is hopeful to play the remaining Chennai League games. “Every game you play, you play with intensity,  look to learn and that’s how you get better as a cricketer.”

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