KNOCKING THE DOORS
Vijay Shankar impressed during the tour of New Zealand © AFP
Just 48 hours after playing the third and final T20I against New Zealand in Hamilton, Vijay Shankar was in a jovial mood as he reflected on the recent limited-overs series in Australia and New Zealand. During the New Zealand leg of the tour, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder impressed with a knock of 45 when they were 18 for 4 in the final ODI, and then batted up the order during the three T20Is. His impressive performances have earned appreciation from the likes of Ravi Shastri and MSK Prasad, throwing doors open for World Cup selection. In a chat with ToI, the 28-year-old spoke about his role in the Indian team, the World Cup and more. Excerpts:
You have had a good run of matches with the Indian team recently and shown plenty of promise. How do you assess your own performance?
I actually expected a lot more from myself. I could have batted till the end and seen the team through in the second T20I against New Zealand, but I missed out. In that way, I was a bit disappointed. But otherwise, it was a good tour for me. I have learnt a lot and I am getting better. Mentally, I was in a very good space when I went there. I remember telling before leaving for Australia that I can win close matches with the bat. I had a chance to do that but I missed out. I have done it a couple of times for India A, but I need to show the world that I can do it a lot more for India.
How did the promotion up the order happen for the T20Is? What did the team management expect from you?
After the practice session just before the first T20I, Rohit Sharma told me that I might bat at No. 3. He just asked me to be ready. The team on the whole feels I am good enough to bat there. When I played in the fifth ODI where we were 18 for 4 and I scored that 45, that knock gave the team confidence that I can bat up the order and do well. If I didn’t do well there, I would have anyways been out of the team. I had nothing to lose. I thought I should just enjoy the moment and play as many overs as possible. That ODI has changed things for me.
You have played all your cricket as an allrounder but you didn’t bowl in the three T20Is. There is a feeling that the team management is looking at you as a specialist batsman who can bowl a bit. How do you see that?
I will keep working on all aspects of my game whenever I train with my coach (S Balaji) back home. I might not have bowled in the three T20s but the only man of the match I have got for India so far was for my bowling during the Nidahas Trophy last year. I can’t start thinking that they are trying me as a specialist batsman. I need to keep working on my bowling. When the time comes for me to deliver, I should be able to do it.
Do you feel confident about bowling your full quota overs in ODIs?
During the recent series, my thinking was only to keep it really tight and bowl stump to stump. I was restrictive in my mindset with the ball. My biggest strength with the ball is to use the short ball effectively. I can bowl quicker than I bowled recently. It’s just the matter of one game where I bowl a 10-over spell and give the team confidence that I can do it. I feel it is all about that. I can definitely bowl a touch quicker than I showed in New Zealand. It is just about confidence. If I can get a couple of wickets too, things will be different.
Comparisons with Hardik Pandya…do you think both of you offer enough different things to fit into the same side?
If we both play together and the team feels we will give more options with the ball, it will be good for us. But we can’t think about all these things.