CHENNAI: Even for those far removed from the world of perfection, not being able to finish something after getting it started is cause enough for popping a vein, or at least scrunching eyebrows in annoyance.
Going by that reasoning and how events have unfolded over the past four months for Vijay Shankar, the 26-year-old — South Zone’s vice-captain in the T20 Zonal League — has two big reasons to do the above things on a regular basis.
The first: his inherent need to get things right. The second: not being able to capitalise on good starts (barring one Ranji Trophy clash against Gujarat) that he’s crafted in all the 10 matches since returning to action.
But, the right-hander didn’t gnash his teeth or vent his ire on breakable objects. What Vijay did instead was lay those psychological undercurrents to rest with a confident 81-ball hundred for India A during their practice clash against Bangladesh in Hyderabad on Monday.
“I was just intent on batting for a long period. I got to fifty after tea. I wasn’t planning on getting to three digits,” recollected Vijay. “When they took the new ball, I thought I’d pick off 20-odd runs quickly to get closer to a ton. It was a very important innings, something I can cherish for some time.”
Though this century might make it look easy, exorcising statistical ghosts is far from that. The aforementioned matches that he’s been a part of since his comeback from a knee injury can be broken down into two parts: six in Ranji Trophy and four in South Zone T20 league.
Despite healthy batting vitals from the Ranji sample size — tally of 288, average of 41.4, strike-rate of 56.1 — his conversion rate (crossing 50 once despite all his scores being north of 20) was found wanting. The same went for his T20 campaign. Tally of 131, average of 32.75, strike-rate of 124.76, but only one 30-plus score.
“Though I’ve been batting well, the problem has been to convert those innings into big scores,” explained Vijay.
“I got starts, but rash shots killed them. It was disappointing. So, I just recalibrated my priorities. I told myself I needed to spend more time in the middle, and convert starts into big scores. I also made use of a mental exercise that I’ve always banked on. While watching matches on TV, I place myself in the batsman’s shoes and imagine how I would face that particular ball. That helped. And not to mention the time I’ve put in at the nets under the guidance of my coach S Balaji.”