Willing to bat at number four if asked, all-rounder Vijay Shankar says he is not competing with Hardik Pandya for a slot in India’s playing eleven during the World Cup. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder has been projected as a possible candidate for the number four slot after some impressive performances for India during tour of New Zealand. His and Pandya’s strength areas are completely different from each other and perhaps that is the reason he feels he is not in any race with with Pandya. “I don’t think I am competing with Hardik. He is a terrific cricketer. Yes, we are all-rounders but we are different from each other. And why do we need to compete? It would be great if both of us can contribute in India’s victory,” Shankar told PTI during an interview when asked about comparisons with the Baroda man.
Both Hardik and Shankar are known to hit big sixes, the former using a bit more brute power with his impeccable timing. For Shankar, it’s more about the body balance while taking the aerial route. “I love hitting those big sixes. The key for me is to retain my shape. I have not been successful when I have tried to muscle the ball but whenever I have held shape, the ball has gone into the stands,” he explained. For Shankar, he is already geared up for the challenge if asked to bat at number four. “The series against New Zealand was a great confidence-booster as I could score that 40 odd in touch conditions when the team needed me. I needed that self belief and now I am ready for whatever the team tells me to do,” the 27 year old said.
While the World Cup bound members were asked to relax and de-stress before the big event, Shankar was busy training in Chennai, trying to work on a few “technical issues”. “I batted indoors with my childhood coach. I had got some valuable tips from VVS Laxman at Sunrisers Hyderabad and I make sure I am working on them. After that I went to the Guru Nanak University ground where I bowl. “I don’t bowl indoors as I bowl with full run-up. There are times I do single wicket bowling and there are times I try practise hitting a specific length,” he said talking about his training regimen. He started as a medium pacer, who clicked mid 120kmph, but now at times can crank it up to 135 km. “I got a lot of confidence when I bowled that final over against Australia in a T20 game at home. I am now bowling 135 clicks at times and yeah it’s good.”
Normally, a quiet man, Shankar made it clear that he is not shy when it comes to seeking solutions from skipper Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni or coach Ravi Shastri.
“Yes, I am a quiet person off the field. But if I need to ask anything, I can go up to Mahi bhai or Virat and pick their brains and they are happy to answer. I am not shy when it comes to asking questions,” said Shankar.
Shankar had enrolled in an MBA course but his gruelling cricket itinerary has not yet allowed him to study much. “I want to complete my MBA but don’t know when I will find time from my cricket schedule,” said Shankar, who is happy that his elder brother and his family are travelling to England to watch the World Cup. “They will be there during World Cup and it’s always great to have your family by your side when you are a part of such a big tournament,” he signed off.