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‘Important to push yourself and I don’t deviate from my work ethic’

Man in the news loves long drives, is a United fan & idolises Dravid

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 21.04.19, 2:35 AM
  • Updated 21.04.19, 2:35 AM
  • 3 mins read
Vijay Shankar and David Warner. (PTI)

Twentyeight-year-old Vijay Shankar, who is in India’s XV for the upcoming World Cup, spoke to The Telegraph from Hyderabad on Saturday afternoon.

Vijay is a key member of the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the franchise which won the IPL in 2016.

Articulate in his answers, Vijay came across as simple and clear about priorities.


Q Has it sunk in that you’ll be a part of strongly-fancied India’s World Cup campaign?

A It has... There’d been speculation about my inclusion and confirmation came when elder brother Ajay called to give me the happy news... Of course, the World Cup is very important, but the ongoing IPL is also important for me and my franchise. Right now, that’s the priority.

Q Hadn’t you, perhaps, been glued to the TV?

A No. Actually, I’d been getting ready for a Sunrisers event when the announcement was made in Mumbai.

Q But wouldn’t the mere thought of the World Cup be somewhat of a distraction?

A My nature is such that I stay in the present. I focus only on what I’m doing, it could be nets with the team I’m playing for or working with my personal batting coach for the last 13 years, S. Balaji.

Q Is Balaji based in Chennai?

A Yes. My coach and my parents (Shankar, Rama Shankar) have had the biggest influence on me.

Q You appear to be the first choice for the No.4 position in the World Cup...

A As a cricketer, it’s important to push yourself and I don’t deviate from my (strong) work ethic. I’m ready to face challenges.

Q Taking questions after the announcement of the World Cup squad, chief selector M.S.K. Prasad termed you a “three-dimensional” cricketer. What did you make of an overlooked Ambati Rayudu’s caustic tweet that he’d “ordered” 3-D glasses for the World Cup?

A I could understand (the trigger for Rayudu’s tweet)... We met soon after that, during the Sunrisers vs Chennai Super Kings match, at home, and had a pretty normal conversation. Nothing unpleasant.

Q Do you regard yourself a specialist batsman who can bowl or an all-rounder?

A (Emphatically) All-rounder... I’m getting better with my bowling and the more I bowl, the better I will become.

Q Role model?

A Rahul Dravid. I’ve worked with him for three years as he’s the India A coach and it has been an experience. Dravid would push me up the order when the team was two or three down without many on board... The one advice from him I won’t forget is that I should “enjoy” my batting... Enjoy my cricket.

Q Over the past 13 months, you’ve played for India in ODIs and T20Is... Thoughts on Test cricket?

A In fact, my first India call-up was in Test cricket, when I got added to the squad for the last two matches against Sri Lanka in 2017-2018... It’s only in Test cricket that you can face a different situation on different days. It’s with good reason they say Test cricket is the proper test for a cricketer. The biggest challenge.

Q To talk of the Sunrisers... Your take on where the franchise stands now (fifth on the table) in IPL 2019 ?

A We’ve lost a couple of close matches, but we’ve also played good cricket... At this critical stage, it’s about believing in ourselves and backing ourselves.

Q The Sunrisers have two modern-day batting stalwarts, captain Kane Williamson and David Warner. What’s it like sharing the dressing room with two very different batsmen and very different individuals in terms of temperament as well?

A I’m the type to watch and learn. It’s not only from Kane and Warner... I believe everybody has some good qualities and it’s important to learn from them. Would make me a better cricketer.

Q How will the Sunrisers stop Andre Russell on Sunday?

A (Laughs) By getting him out early.

Q What’s the formula for Russell?

A We’re having a team meeting soon after our conversation ends. Russell would be discussed.

Q Do you have a favourite T20 cricketer?

A No... Just have Dravid as my role model.

Q Likes and dislikes?

A Love filter coffee and long drives... Like honesty. No particular dislikes.

Q Long drives... Do you own one of the truly upmarket brands or an iconic model?

A I recently got myself a Mahindra Thar and I’m perfectly happy with it. I’d been wanting the Thar for some time.

Q You’re a Manchester United fan... Did you watch the Champions League quarter final (second leg) the other night, when Barcelona ousted United 4-0 on aggregate?

A I didn’t and was just hoping for the best. You see, even if you sense that the result won’t go your favourite team’s way, you still have to be loyal!

Q Favourite footballer?

A Wayne Rooney.

Q Finally... You come across as rather reserved. How best does one describe you?

A I’m honest with myself... I’m a calm and quiet person who tries to prepare for the difficult situations which, hopefully, won’t come on successive days of cricket. Staying in the present helps me as a person. As a cricketer too.