CHENNAI: Towards the end of last domestic season, S Sharath, the chairman of Tamil Nadu’s selection committee, was impressed by all-rounder Vijay Shankar’s performance. He had led the state to two limited-over titles (Syed Mushtaq and Vijay Hazare Trophy) after being a part of their run to the Ranji Trophy semifinal. “Let the youngster have one more good season. He will definitely be a part of the national squad.’’
On Monday, midway through the this domestic season, Vijay was picked for the Indian team for the ongoing home series against Sri Lanka, as replacement for Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second Test.
India captain Virat Kohli’s penchant for all-rounders aided Vijay’s selection. The fact that Hardik Pandya had been rested meant that Vijay, who was next in the line, was the automatic choice for replacement.
“Yes, I am aware that today one cannot be one dimensional. I guess the fact that I am an all-rounder helped my cause. It is a great honour to be called up for national duty. I will cherish this moment,” said the 26-year-old.
Vijay’s climb to the top has been steady, and he has put years of hard work in all stages of his career. Studying in Modern School (Nanganallur) and residing in Madipakkam — on the outskirts of the city — the right-hander spent several hours every day, travelling alone to Chepauk for chasing his dreams of being part of the Indian team some day.
“I’ve known Vijay since he was a 11-year old. Both of us studied in Modern. It was really tough those days, trekking down from Madipakkam to Chepauk in pursuit of a cricketing career. He is talented, determined, and has slowly and steadily climbed the ladder to make the cut. We are all happy and proud of him,” said NS Chaturved, the captain of AG’s Office in the TNCA league who is also a childhood friend of Vijay.
Coming back to his role as an all-rounder, the Tamil Nadu limited-over skipper says that he is always looking to deliver what is required for the team, irrespective of the level. “I have been batting at the top of the order at the club and state level. With India A, I have batted at various positions and in different situations. That stint has helped me pace my innings, take responsibility and play according to the situation,” he said.
Vijay may not be as quick as Mohammed Shami or Umesh Yadav, but he can make use of both the new and old ball in an effective manner and deliver vital breakthroughs. “I have improved vastly. In the last 18 months, I have grown as a bowler. During my rehab at the National Cricket Academy (Bengaluru), L Balaji — our bowling coach — helped me a lot and made me realise my potential.
“I bowl at much lively pace now, and have better control. I have also learnt to use both the new ball and old one much more effectively,” explained the Sunrisers Hyderabad player, insisting that his fitness worries are a thing of the past.