SHANKAR RE­PLACES PANDYA IN IN­DIA SQUAD, GILL RE­CEIVES MAIDEN CALL-UP

Se­cond and third ODIS will be played on Tues­day and Fri­day at Ade­laide and Mel­bourne, re­spec­tively

Millennium Post - - Front Page -

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vi­jay Shankar on Sun­day re­placed the sus­pended Hardik Pandya for In­dia's on­go­ing ODI se­ries in Aus­tralia while ris­ing star Shub­man Gill re­ceived his maiden callup to the na­tional team for the New Zealand tour be­gin­ning on Jan­uary 23.

Shankar is a like-for-like re­place­ment for Pandya while Gill re­places Rahul in the squad for the five ODIS and three T20s in New Zealand. Both Pandya and Rahul have been sus­pended pend­ing in­quiry for their con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on women dur­ing a TV show.

"With KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya set to re­turn from Aus­tralia, the All-in­dia Se­nior Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee has de­cided to send all-rounder Vi­jay Shankar & bats­man Shub­man Gill as re­place­ments," said the BCCI in a state­ment is­sued late last night.

"Vi­jay Shankar will join the team be­fore the start of the 2nd ODI in Ade­laide. He will be a part of the squad for the ODI se­ries in Aus­tralia and the tour to New Zealand. Shub­man Gill has been picked for the ODI & T20I se­ries in New Zealand," it added.

The in­clu­sion of the high­lyrated Gill in the In­dian team was a mat­ter of time but he has got his big break sooner than he ex­pected.

His KKR cap­tain Di­nesh Karthik and more re­cently se­nior Pun­jab team­mate Yu­vraj Singh has al­ready pre­dicted a long In­dia ca­reer for Gill. Yu­vraj called Gill a "very spe­cial tal­ent" on the side­lines of a Ranji Tro­phy game in Kolkata last week.

"He is a young guy whose bat­ting I like to watch. He is very ex­cit­ing. He should serve In­dia for a long time but that will also de­pend on how well he is looked af­ter," said Yu­vraj.

Gill was part of the In­dia A squad that toured New Zealand last month. The top-order bats­man is in sub­lime form and scored 790 runs for Pun­jab in the Ranji Tro­phy, av­er­ag­ing 98.75. He was also named player of the tour­na­ment fol­low­ing In­dia's win in the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand

last year.

“It is a big ad­van­tage (to be picked for the New Zealand tour). I played well there in the U-19 World Cup and now again I have got the op­por­tu­nity,” Gill said on Sun­day af­ter get­ting the news of his life, late

last night.

“As I have done well there, I can say that there isn't much ad­just­ment needed in the tech­nique. If I get an op­por­tu­nity, I will have just need to han­dle the pres­sure that comes with play­ing for In­dia. Men­tally, it will be dif­fer­ent for sure but I am ready.”

Mayank Agar­wal, who did well in his de­but Test se­ries in Aus­tralia, was in line to re­place his Kar­nataka team­mate Rahul but it has been learnt that he is nurs­ing a nig­gle. "Ini­tially, the se­lec­tors had picked Mayank Agar­wal for K L Rahul and Vi­jay Shankar for Pandya but it has been learnt that Agar­wal is nurs­ing a nig­gle.

"That is why the team man­age­ment has asked for only one re­place­ment in Aus­tralia and that is Shankar. And Gill is be­ing re­warded for his good show in Ranji Tro­phy and A-tours," a source close to the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee said.

Shankar, on the other hand, has been in­cluded in the In­dian team for the se­cond time af­ter T20 Ni­da­has Tro­phy in Sri Lanka. Shankar too did well dur­ing the A tour of New Zealand, fin­ish­ing as the high­est run-get­ter in the three one-day­ers.

The 27-year-old mid­dle­order bats­man from Tamil Nadu can also bowl medium pace. He has played in five T20s.

In Fe­bru­ary last year, Shankar's big match tem­per­a­ment was put to test against a qual­ity Bangladesh at­tack but the Tamil Nadu cap­tain has come a long way since then.

“I think I have be­come men­tally stronger now and I have full con­fi­dence that I can fin­ish close matches. The In­dia A tour of New Zealand has helped me un­der­stand my game much bet­ter,” Shankar said dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tion.

He be­lieves that A team coach Dravid's de­ci­sion to send him to bat at No 5 in New Zealand helped him im­mensely.

“Rahul sir told me one thing that he has faith in my abil­ity to fin­ish games. I think bat­ting at No 5 also suited my game as I was able to close two games and re­main un­beaten,” said Shankar, who has so far played five T20s for In­dia.

“The 87 I scored in a chase of 300 plus against New Zealand A gave me a lot be­lief that I also be­long to this level. In an­other game, I scored 60 odd in a chase.

“While bat­ting at No 5, in all these matches when I was go­ing into bat, we re­quired 150 to 160 runs and it was very im­por­tant that I paced the in­nings well and played the role of a fin­isher,” Shankar ex­plained.

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