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ICC World Cup 2019: The curious case of Vijay Shankar

Vijay Shankar

Bengaluru, July 2: After Shikhar Dhawan, yet another Indian player has been ruled out from ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 though things looked mysterious this time.

Vijay Shankar, the batting all-rounder whose selection had left the fans and experts divided, found himself out of the tournament with a toe injury.

It was surprising for the Indian fans to learn about his exclusion from the playing XI right before the clash against England on Sunday. Soon after, it was confirmed that the 28-year-old was out of the tournament and would be replaced by opener Mayank Agarwal.

WC Special | Fixtures | Squads

The scenario was stunning indeed. Vijay had sustained a toe injury before the Afghanistan game on June 22 when he was hit by a Jasprit Bumrah delivery in the nets. Though he limped off the ground, yet Bumrah said later in a press conference that that Vijay was fine. He also went on to play in two games after that injury - against Afghanistan and the West Indies. In the two matches, he scored 29 and 14, respectively, but did not bowl.

And then, Kohli said ahead of the big game against the hosts that Vijay was very close to playing a defining knock for India at the World Cup. But what followed was found to be contradictory as Vijay was replaced by Rishabh Pant and then, got ruled out of the tournament. He played just three games in the tournament after Dhawan got ruled out and his highest moment was picking the wicket of Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq with his very first ball in the tournament. There too, he had come to replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar after the pacer had a hamstring pull. Vijay ended up with two for 22 in the game.

The 'replacement cricketer'

It was a very curious case for Vijay. He got into the team early this year as a replacement for Hardik Pandya in Australia after the latter was temporarily suspended over a TV controversy. He then pipped Ambati Rayudu to get into the World Cup squad as the selectors felt he is a "three dimensional" cricketer who would play a significant role. He was in fact chosen as the probable No.4 batsman in the squad although that decision had raised quite a few eyebrows. He then replaced Dhawan in the XI and then Bhuvneshwar as the bowler and before getting replaced by Agarwal. There was also confusion about Vijay's injury. While one source that it was the old injury that worsened while another said he was hit again by Bumrah.

Lightning struck the same place twice?

Not more curious cases about an Indian player in England have been registered perhaps with the exception of Navjot Singh Sidhu who had pulled out from a Test series in that country in the summer of 1996. Sourav Ganguly made history thereafter.

Selection conundrum

Vijay's replacement is also a case that sparks speculation. It is surprising to see Mayank, who is yet to play in ODIs and has appeared in just two Tests against Australia (also as a replacement for out-of-form Rahul), to make the World Cup squad straightaway. Rayudu, who had lost the race to Vijay and was kept as a standby batsman, was overlooked yet again. Was it because of his frustration-venting "3-D glasses" tweet?

Well, Indian cricket sometimes gives rise to a whole lot of questions that are beyond the common man's wisdom to answer.

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Story first published: Tuesday, July 2, 2019, 12:21 [IST]
Other articles published on Jul 2, 2019
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