Sunrisers all-rounder Vijay Shankar asserted that he does not want to pressurize himself to earn back a spot in the Indian side, but insisted that he will get back to the national side if he keeps enjoying his game. Shankar further claimed that he wants to contribute more with the ball this season.
Few in cricket history have had a career as topsy and turvy as Vijay Shankar as after having to wait for almost a decade to get a chance, the Tamil Nadu man saw himself feature in the World Cup for India before his career immediately took a nosedive. A toe-injury put an abrupt end to Shankar’s 2019 World Cup campaign and the 30-year-old has since not featured for India, with him not even in the picture for national selection.
At 30, Shankar still has plenty of time to push for a comeback, but speaking ahead of the 2021 IPL season, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder insisted that he is keen to not put pressure on himself. Shankar admitted that he misses playing for the national team but attested with confidence that he will earn his spot back if he keeps enjoying his cricket.
“That (comeback thoughts) keeps coming up every now and then (laughs). Sometimes when I'm idle in my room, I watch my own videos [of old innings]. As a player you will want to push yourself for a comeback, but I want to do it the other way,” Shankar told ESPN Cricinfo.
“I don't want to put myself under pressure to perform or get back into the Indian team. I just want to enjoy the game and I feel I've done really well when I've enjoyed every small thing I do. The end result will take care of itself. So, whatever happens, I'm ready to take it.”
One of the ways through which Shankar can force his way back into the national side is by having a sound IPL. The 30-year-old did not have the greatest of seasons in 2020, averaging 24 with the bat before injuring himself in the second half of the competition, but the all-rounder is keen to leave an impression this time. Shankar asserted that he has worked incredibly hard in build-up to IPL 2021 and revealed that he has worked on multiple aspects of his game, including his bowling.
“I've put a lot of work into my bowling and batting with Balaji sir. I'm someone who likes spending more time at the nets, but unfortunately, due to the injuries, I had to focus on rehab, which I did with my physio Thulasi Ram and trainer Rajinikanth. Now, I've been giving more time to my skills.
“In the last few months, pretty much all the training facilities and gyms have reopened in Chennai. There was a facility called Throttle, where I had enough space to practice and had net bowlers to bowl to me. I really have to thank all those who helped me out because it was really, really hot. My coach also came and stood there in the [mid-day] sun, so it's important for me to do well. That's the only way I can give back.
“I have also worked on my bowling run-up during this period with Palani Amarnath, who played for CSK in early 2008-09. Alternate days I was working on my bowling at Guru Nanak College. I tried to set a few things right with my stride length. If I get it right in the match, it will be at least 1% different than what I was bowling last year,” the 30-year-old said.
Shankar has the opportunity to grow from strength to strength with the ball as last season, the right-armer did a fine job as a bowler, maintaining an impeccable economy of 6.22. The Tamil Nadu man asserted that he is keen to contribute more with the ball to SRH this season, particularly after having worked hard on his bowling, pre-season.
“Definitely. I'm confident in the role. Last year, if you see, overall I had an economy of around 6.6 [6.22] and bowled reasonably well in the opportunities I got. Last year also I mentioned that I've worked on my bowling. It was about putting in more time, and I have now.
“I'm not thinking about doing extraordinary stuff or making a comeback. It's about enjoying myself. I started playing this game because I love it. If I enjoy the game and take things as they come, I think I will be in much better mental space.”
Shankar and SRH will kick-start their IPL 2021 campaign against KKR on Sunday, April 11.