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Exclusive: Vijay Shankar not disheartened with India snub, focusses on leading Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy

New Delhi, December 9: India cricketer Vijay Shankar made a lot of buzz after getting a preference over Ambati Rayudu for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England as the national selector MSK Prasad dubbed him as the 3-dimensional player.

The Tamil Nadu all-rounder did well in the showpiece event whatever capacity he could before he sustained an injury as his WC and his journey came to an abrupt end.

The 27-year-old cricketer returned home disappointed and was ignored by the selectors after recovering from the injury.

The right-handed batsman and right-arm medium pacer was overlooked for the limited-overs' series against Bangladesh and West Indies.

Mykhel had a telephonic conversation with Vijay Shankar, who is leading the Tamil Nadu side in the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 season that kicked-off on Monday (December 9), and the newly-appointed captain of the two-time Ranji champions talked about his passion for the game; about leading the likes of R Ashwins and Dinesh Karthiks; and about his plans of making it to the national side.

Here are the excerpts from the exclusive chat:

MyKhel: You've been named the captain of Tamil Nadu side for the Ranji Trophy season. What is your reaction to this responsibility?

Vijay Shankar: Obviously, anyone would be happy to lead the state's side and it feels great that I have been given this role. But definitely, the responsibility will be more but will be a great opportunity for me to learn a lot. I am looking at it something that will help me become a better cricketer.

MK: Do you think your team is capable of doing well in this season and eventually lifting the Ranji Trophy this time around?

VS: If you ask me about that, it's very difficult to answer because I am not someone who talks a lot about winning a trophy and all those things. What is important for us is to play good cricket and play to our potential. Having said that, I think we have a good side and playing good cricket with a positive intent will be the key for us. Winning the trophy, I think, will be the end result, but I think we'll have to do well in the league stage to get closer to the title.

MK: Till now you were playing under Dinesh Karthik but now you'll be leading him. How important is he going to be in your scheme of things?

VS: Well not just Dinesh Karthik, I think all the senior players in the team will have a very important role because they'll come up with valuable suggestions for they have a lot of experience. So, as I said earlier, it is going to be a great learning curve for me. Therefore, every member of the current team will have a major impact.

MK: You've spent time with Bhuvneshwar Kumar during the IPL and even in the Indian dressing room. What did you learn from him for he's one of the finest pacers in the world?

VS: Bhuvneshwar is a very hard working cricketer and the most important thing is that he's a very humble human being. I am also someone who's very calm and it's good to learn from someone like him who's achieved so much and still remain sincere to his work. So I've learnt a lot from various players both Indian and international in the Sunrisers Hyderabad side but from Bhuvi's work ethics is what impressed me the most.

MK: Which aspect of your bowling are you working on; is it the pace or accuracy?

VS: I am working on the general aspect of if because I am not very particular about my speed or accuracy. So in the T20Is or ODIs, I actually didn't bowl much in the international games that I played but whenever the captain handed over the ball to me, I did pretty decently. For me, it's about my work ethics whether I bat or bowl. It will be very difficult from the player's point of view because sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you won't as you have such a strong team and a strong bowling attack and might not get many opportunities. And that is understandable from a team's point of view. But I believe in working hard, whenever I hit the nets I make sure I bowl a lot in the nets, middle the ball well with the bat. Because I want to keep myself ready so that when the time comes, I am able to deliver.

MK: How satisfied are you with your journey at the international stage so far; and what has been the message from the selectors and the team management after you suffered the injury in the World Cup and subsequently getting dropped from the side?

VS: The journey that I had has been pretty good because I played in different situations. I've batted at No. 4, 5, 6 and I chipped in with decent scores. But a couple of innings in which I've played really well were the game against Australia in Nagpur where I scored 46 odd runs before getting run out and the second one was my debut innings in which I scored 45 and there too I was run out, we were 18/4 when I walked in the middle. Overall, I had a decent hit with the bat, except for a couple of innings.

In bowling too I have done well. I bowled the last over against Australia where I successfully defended the target for the team and the match against Pakistan (in the World Cup after Bhuvneshwar left the field). I believe in doing my own things which are under my control for that has helped me getting picked up in the national side and I will once again focus on my hard work so that I get recalled in the Indian side.

I haven't received any message from anyone and I understand that I'll have to score more runs and pick up more wickets in the domestic circuit for that only is in my control. I don't expect anything, I just love to keep doing my work.

MK: What according to you is the importance of fitness in your life?

VS: I am vegetarian so I am very particular about my diet and I know what to eat and what not to eat, especially I am aware of what not to eat. I obviously don't eat junk food but I love the south Indian and north Indian dishes. Fitness is very important these days as one needs to be a very good fielder when you enter the Indian team, which is mandatory. So fitness will only help you become a top-class fielder and there is no substitute for it.

MK: Talking about the injury that you sustained during the WC. How did you recover from it and what role did your family play to help you overcome the mental aspect of it?

VS: Yes definitely, getting mentally tough during injuries is challenging because more than the physical aspect it is the mental aspect that helps us recover quickly. Yes, it was difficult for me to get over the injury. But my family, my coach and close friends were always there for me and they were the only motivation for me during that period. The injuries are not in our control, until and unless I do something stupid, so I try to not let these things affect me too much and keep moving forward. Also, after returning from England, I kept myself occupied and never gave myself any free time so that I do not develop any negative thoughts about the opportunity that I missed. So I kept myself involved with something or the other like I kept myself busy with the TNPL side, or something else. And that is why I was able to recover quickly and do well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

MK: What do you generally do in your free time?

VS: When I am not travelling with any team, I like to be at home and don't do anything. I go for long drives with my close friends and coffee is something I love. So long drives with coffee and something. So these are my go-to things. I don't watch too many movies.

MK: Which was the last movie you watched in a theatre?

VS: (after some thinking) In a theatre, I think it was a Tamil movie that I watched a long time ago. But when I am travelling with the team I watch movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar.

MK: First you had to face competition from Hardik Pandya but now there's a Shivam Dube as well. Do you take them as your competitors?

VS: I generally don't compare myself with others. Whoever I see, I try to learn something from him and improve. As I said earlier, I still believe in doing my things which helped me get there and that is the only thing that is going to take me there. So, I don't see anyone as a competitor. I look to compete with myself and get better every day. I look to give my 100 per cent in whatever I do. I just look to keep it simple which is actually easier rather than wasting my energy on something else. So, instead of wasting my time about such things I prefer introspecting and improving my game.

MK: There are several senior players like R Ashwin, Karthik. How do you think these guys will help the youngsters in the team?

VS: I think these guys are very approachable and the youngsters in the present team have big opportunity to interact with them and improve their game. And talking about the tournament, I think Ranji Trophy is something that we've all looked at playing for this is the first step towards realising our dreams.

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Story first published: Monday, December 9, 2019, 18:49 [IST]
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