CHENNAI: It’s been an eventful year for Vijay Shankar. After a rather unexpected entry to India’s World Cup squad, things went downhill fast after an injury put him out of the tournament during the group phase. Now at the end of the year, he finds himself captain of his state in the red-ball format.He has led Tamil Nadu successfully in the shorter format and hopes he can replicate the same success in the upcoming Ranji Trophy season. His confidence stems from the fact that after a long time, Tamil Nadu will be fielding a full-strength squad for most of the games.
“It is a great honour to lead the state in the Ranji Trophy. Having captained Tamil Nadu in the shorter formats I have a fair idea how to go about the task. We will have a full-strength team for most of the games and all the players are in good form. I see no reason why we cannot have a crack at the Ranji title this season,’’ said Vijay, who will be leading the state in the longer format for the first time.
Tamil Nadu will be meeting arch-rivals Karnataka in the first game itself. So what will be his mantra for success? “It is good to meet a top side like Karnataka in the league phase itself. It will help us in our preparations and also help us start the season on a good note. My mantra is simple, play to our strength. Define a role to each and every player. See to it that the boys play to potential and execute plans. We have the right mix of experience and youth,” explained the 28-year-old.
Most captains, when they play against top sides, look to win the toss and bat out the opposition. Is that his mindset as well? “Yes, one needs to put runs on the board to win. But my gameplan will be to take 20 wickets. Only if you take 20 wickets regularly, can you win the tournament. I want our team to play with a positive mindset and try go for a win,’’ said the all-rounder.
Does he believe that his bowlers can take 20 wickets regularly? “Of course! We have an attack that has lot of variety. T Natarajan and K Vignesh can be lethal as a pair. Plus we have ace spinner R Ashwin in our ranks who can win matches single-handedly on a given day. Sai Kishore, who is in the best form of his life, will be a perfect foil for Ashwin. So as I said earlier, it all boils down to how we execute our plans and play to potential.”
This season, both in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali, the batting order was shuffled very often. But Vijay insists such experiments are unlikely in the Ranji trophy. “Red ball cricket is different from the white ball. We will stick to our traditional batting pattern. Abhinav Mukund, M Vijay, B Aparajith, Dinesh Karthik will play in that order. I expect our top-order, which is very experienced, to set up a good platform for the lower order to exploit,” he said.