Getting a wicket off first ball is special, says Vijay Shankar

Manchester: Vijay Shankar made his presence felt on his World Cup debut with two crucial Pakistani wickets and the Tamil Nadu all-rounder is backing himself to play an important role in India’s campaign.

If someone had told him six months back that his bowling would become crucial to India’s plans at the quadrennial event, it would not have been a surprise for him. His ‘three-dimensional’ ability was put to test against Pakistan and he responded with wickets of opener Imam ul Haq and rival captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.

“I knew that I was batting well but my handy bowling makes me useful,” Shankar told reporters during a mixed zone interaction. He got a wicket with his very first World Cup delivery after Bhuvneshwar Kumar hobbled off the field due to a hamstring injury. “I need to keep on improving on all aspects of the game and that’s how I look at things so that when the situation comes I am ready to face it. I was always focused on my preparation,” Shankar said after returning impressive figures of 2/22 in 5.4 overs.

Although he is designated for the number four slot in the batting order, Shankar is now ready to bat at number six or seven since the team management is expected to promote Hardik Pandya up the order in case top three go on to play till 35th over.

“First few innings during Australia series, I batted at Nos 6 or 7. When playing for your country, you should be ready to adapt yourself to different situations,” said Shankar, who got a run-a-ball 15 in India’s 336 for 5. But getting a wicket off the first ball was a “pleasant surprise”.

That was a surprise for me as it’s rare for someone to get injured and I come in as a replacement. Getting a wicket off the first ball is a special thing for me. It was a great opportunity for me to make my World Cup debut against Pakistan as a lot of people would have watched the game. I just wanted to enjoy the moment as you don’t get to experience this often,’ he said.