I wasn’t expecting to be given the ball against Pakistan: Vijay Shankar
A couple of handy knocks against New Zealand and Australia in One-dayers had impressed the Team India management and the senior national selection committee, headed by MSK Prasad, so much that they had declared him as India’s No. 4 for the World Cup in England. Being just nine ODIs old and asked to be the fulcrum of the batting line-up, Shankar had a lot on his plate.
The dream, however, lasted just three matches before Shankar was ruled out of the quadrennial showpiece with a fractured toe, courtesy a Jasprit Bumrah yorker during a training session.
“It was a very disappointing time. Every player dreams of representing his country and so did I. It is hard to explain what I felt at that time. But then I can’t remain disappointed and depressed about it. I had to move forward,” says Shankar, who is in the city as part of the India ‘B’ contingent.
Instead of recalling those painful memories, Shankar chooses to dwell on the positive impact he had made during his short stay at the tournament, especially recalling his maiden World Cup wicket against Pakistan with his first delivery in the high-octane clash in Manchester.
“I was very happy with my performance (against Pakistan). Standing on the field when the National Anthem was being played was a great feeling. Honestly, I was not expecting to bowl when I was handed the ball, but in such a situation, I just tried to give off my best and bowl tightly. There was a little bit of swing on offer and I wanted to make use of that. It was an unbelievable moment,” says Shankar, who trapped Pakistan opener Imam-ul Haq in front of the stumps with a perfect in-swinger.
Even his 58-run partnership for the third wicket with skipper Virat Kohli against Afghanistan has left an indelible impression on his mind.
“Before coming back from England, I had a talk with the coach and the support staff and it was a freak injury that saw me miss out on the festival. Yes, that’s what the World Cup is. But I have to accept these things and what is destined to happen will happen. I’m not disappointed with how things have happened. I’m happy to contribute and deliver in whichever way I can,” says he.
Thanking his family and coach for standing by him, Shankar is not setting himself a target about returning to the national team. With Hardik Pandya out injured and a year left for the World T20 in Australia, Shankar knows there will be opportunities but wants to take it one tournament at a time.
“I don’t have a target in mind. Wherever I’m asked to bat, I’ll do that. I am happy to contribute in whichever I can. There is the domestic T20 tournament followed by the Ranji Trophy. So all I’m looking to do is to perform consistently,” says Shankar.
He sounded unhappy with media reports claiming he had an indifferent run in the just-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy for Tamil Nadu, despite averaging 54.85 in ten matches.