Vi­jay forc­ing pace af­ter mak­ing cut, but only with bat

The New Indian Express - - SPORT - ASHOK VENU­GOPAL

FROM the time he made in­ter­na­tional de­but, Vi­jay Shankar’s per­for­mance has been closely mon­i­tored. The team wants to see him as an all-rounder, a breed In­dia has strug­gled to un­earth in the last few years. Hardik Pandya ticked this box, and when it came to look­ing for a back-up, the se­lec­tors ze­roed in on Vi­jay, whose per­for­mance in that role in do­mes­tic cricket had been rea­son­able rather than spec­tac­u­lar. That put pres­sure on him, be­cause the role is de­mand­ing. And when he did get the chance, it came in a for­mat which many thought he isn’t most suited to -- T20. Apart from the mo­ment, he didn’t have much to take home from his de­but series in Sri Lanka. But since then, when given a chance, he has shown glimpses of what he can bring to this In­dian team. Though he didn’t make a big score, his com­po­sure dur­ing the knock of 45 in the fifth ODI against New Zealand — help­ing In­dia re­build from 18/4 to a match-win­ning 252 — drew a lot of ap­plause. “Very im­pressed with the way Vi­jay played in Aus­tralia and New Zealand. He showed lot of flair that he can bat at the high­est level. He has re­sponded well to the chal­lenge. If he gets to bowl reg­u­larly, he can be a com­plete all­rounder. From what I have seen, he deserves a place in the World Cup squad,” said for­mer na­tional se­lec­tor Venkat­a­p­a­thy Raju. In the T20s against New Zealand, Vi­jay chipped in with handy con­tri­bu­tions in two of the three matches. On Sun­day in the last match, he top-scored with 43 and helped In­dia lay a plat­form on which the mid­dle-or­der failed to build. At the same time, the team didn’t use his bowl­ing abil­i­ties at all in the three T20s in New Zealand. Though his bowl­ing may not be as pen­e­tra­tive as one ex­pects at the top level, he can bowl a few overs if the sit­u­a­tion de­mands. With World Cup loom­ing, it seems In­dia might be con­sid­er­ing him pri­mar­ily as a bats­man. In that case, in­stead of com­pet­ing for a spot with Pandya, he may have to vie with the likes of Am­bati Rayudu, Di­nesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. “You have to play the role as­signed to you by the team man­age­ment. The think tank is try­ing to fill in slots for the World Cup. They are try­ing dif­fer­ent play­ers at dif­fer­ent slots in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Vi­jay looked con­fi­dent and played the role al­lot­ted to him to per­fec­tion,’’ said for­mer In­dian opener Sadagop­pan Ramesh. Tamil Nadu’s chief se­lec­tor S Sharath too feels Vi­jay has what it takes to con­trib­ute to the team’s cause and is fit for the for­mats he has been cho­sen for. “He has the abil­ity to give his the best when the chips are down. He has all-round strokes and is a good striker of the ball. He is con­sis­tent with the ball and has the knack of pick­ing up wick­ets. He is a strong con­tender for a slot in the World Cup squad.’’

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