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Vijay Shankar’s inclusion in Indian cricket squad reward for good Ranji Trophy

Vijay Shankar, who has been included in the Indian cricket team squad for the remaining series against Sri Lanka after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan opted out due to personal reasons, has been rewarded for his consistent show as Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy skipper.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Nov 23, 2017 15:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs Sri Lanka,Indian national cricket team,Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar has performed consistently for Tamil Nadu in the 2017 Ranji Trophy, including scoring a hundred against Odisha and taking five wickets against Mumbai.(BCCI)

Indian selectors on Monday night sprang a surprise by naming Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar as the replacement for Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the remainder of the Test series against Sri Lanka.

The 26-year-old Shankar received his maiden India call-up after wonderful performances in domestic cricket, with the latest being a fine hundred against Odisha and a five-wicket match haul against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18.

Shankar has so far played 32 first-class matches, scoring 1,671 runs at a highly impressive average of 49.14 with five centuries and 10 fifties. He also has 27 wickets in the format.

Having led Tamil Nadu in a few limited-overs domestic matches, Shankar has garnered 750 runs in 37 outings at 32.60, inclusive of five half-centuries, as well as 25 wickets. To hone his skills as a bowler, Shankar has trained under guidance of former India seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji.

He has had IPL stints with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) — he bowled only one over in his only appearance for CSK — as well as with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).

It was in IPL 2017 with Sunrisers Hyderabad that Shankar got a decent run of four matches, and the batting all-rounder responded with a 44-ball 63 against Gujarat Lions. In that contest, Shankar helped David Warner’s side win by a commanding eight wickets as he added 133 runs with captain David Warner.

Shankar had been on the radar for a while, as per chief Indian selector MSK Prasad’s confession. In fact, at one time he was competing with Hardik Pandya for the role of a specialist all-rounder in the national side. Unfortunately, a knee injury sidelined him for months, during which Shankar also missed India A’s tour of Australia in 2016.

Hailing from south Chennai, Shankar’s early days in cricket were spent training on a terrace which was modified for his requirement, including nets, a synthetic astro-turf as well as a bowling machine, according to ESPNCricinfo.

He made his first-class debut in 2012-13, and is described as someone who has provided solidity to Tamil Nadu during their rebuilding phase. He scored a half-century in his debut match, and notched up a century in the next.

It was in Ranji Trophy 2014-15 that Shankar made a strong mark, amassing 577 runs in a mere seven matches at 57.70, with two centuries and three fifties. He went on to play for India A, but a knee surgery took away the chance to tour Australia.

Having spent two months at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, he returned to Tamil Nadu’s Ranji side for the 2016-17 season and scored 312 runs with a century and a fifty.

Though injury-prone, Shankar made news again when he hammered an 81-ball 103 not out against Bangladesh in their one-off tour match, batting at No 8.

With Hardik Pandya on ‘rest’ — he is training at NCA — for the Sri Lanka Test series and Bhuvneshwar taking time off for his marriage, Shankar was called up by Indian selectors for the two Tests against Sri Lanka at Nagpur (November 24-28) and Delhi (December 2-6).

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 14:58 IST