This is one evening Vijay Shankar will remember for long. After all, on Tuesday, he bowled India to an eight-run win in the second ODI at the VCA Stadium here, scalping two wickets in the final over.
With Australia needing 11 runs to win, Shankar trapped Marcus Stoinis leg-before on the first ball of the over and castled Adam Zampa on the third ball with a yorker to seal the win.
The Tamil Nadu all-rounder celebrated the wickets by punching in the air and he later agreed that he was prepared to bowl the final over. “I was just ready for the challenge because I knew I had to bowl that one over. And I was just telling after the 43rd-44th over, I’m going to bowl anytime. Maybe the last over and I should be ready to defend a total of 10 runs or 15 runs,” Shankar said in the post-match interaction. “I think basically I was mentally prepared for that,” he added.
The Tamil Nadu all-rounder also admitted that he is working hard on his bowling. “Every session I work very hard on all aspects of my game, especially bowling. I know I need to keep working on it,” he said.
“In the last two games that I played, I might not have bowled much, (and) I might have gone for runs in the overs that I bowled. (So this) last over was much-needed over for me, to defend that,” Shankar said.
He also admitted that this will give the team ‘some confidence’ about his abilities. “That is something which is important. Just because I was prepared I think I was able to deliver what the team needed. Only when I start doing it, the team will start trusting me a lot more and I’ll start bowing a lot more. It’s all in my hands. I need to keep delivering wherever I get the ball,” he said.
He also revealed that after the 48th over, Jasprit Bumrah came up to him and said that the ball is reversing a bit. “He told me that I need to hit the right length on this wicket, where I give myself a chance to hit the stumps. When he told that, I was clear mentally and I thought I should do that and the only way to defend those is [by] picking wickets,” he said. “If I can bowl straighter, (I’ll) give myself a chance to take wickets, I’ll have more chance to hit the stumps,” he added.
While he agreed that the pitch was a bit difficult for batting, Shankar admitted that he enjoyed his batting. He played a crucial knock of 46 and was involved in an 81-run partnership with Virat Kohli for the fourth wicket. “We had good communication in the middle, me and Virat (Kohli) had a good partnership and it was very important for me as well, so I enjoyed playing [in] that situation and did reasonably well.”
With the World Cup a couple of months away, there is now a good chance of Shankar making the final fifteen. But he isn’t thinking much about it.
“I never think about the selection or World Cup thing because it’s a long way off from now and we have too many matches to play after this. Every game is very important. I just look to give my best and win a game for the team,” he stated.