Vijay Shankar is delighted with the national Test team call-up and has stated that it was a dream come true for him and he is eagerly looking forward to it. Shankar was named a replacement of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the upcoming two Tests against Sri Lanka, who had to leave for personal reasons.
Moments after the draw in the Eden Gardens in the first Test, BCCI revealed that Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar will not be part of India's second Test in Nagpur as they have been released from the squad following requests from the duo owing to personal reasons. In place of the Indian pacer, who was declared Man-of-the-Match last game, selectors have named all-rounder Shankar.
The 26-year-old has been on the radar for quite some time. Though he went wicket-less and was out for a duck in Tamil Nadu’s draw against Madhya Pradesh in the recently concluded match of the Ranji Trophy, he had scored a century and picked up a four-wicket haul in the game against Mumbai.
"It's a dream come true for me. I want to thank my coaches Chakradhar Rao and S Balaji for having supported me right throughout my career. I always wanted to give my best in whatever cricket I play. I have never thought that if I do well in this tournament or competition, I will get picked at the next level. It's always about giving my best and I'm eagerly looking forward to my maiden stint in the Indian dressing room," Shankar told TOI.
Shankar has always come in handy when playing for India A with his ability to take wickets and perform with the bat, but of late has been struggling with shoulder and knee injuries.
"I was highly disappointed when I got injured again in 2016. But things began to turn around after I started undergoing rehab in National Cricket Academy with trainer Rajini. I got stronger mentally as I had to train alone. I occupied myself by doing different things. I got to learn more about myself. I realized missing out from action wasn't the end of life," said Shankar, who was part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad team in the IPL.
Shankar has played 32 first-class matches in which he scored 1671 runs with an average of 49.14 and also claimed 27 wickets. The Tamil Nadu lad, who polished under Rahul Dravid’s guidance, claimed that his tenure with the India ‘A’ teams in both four-day and one-day formats have helped him grow as a complete all-rounder.
"I had batted at different positions for India 'A'. It helped me understand the adaptability factor better. Although I performed well with some cameos in the one-dayers, I wanted to bat for longer periods of time in Ranji. I achieved that as well. I have always wanted to be consistent.
"Earlier WV Raman helped me with some key inputs. I have improved my bowling speed. Balaji helped me understand how to make the most of my non-bowling arm and helped me in my run-up. It has helped me immensely," he added.