Getting picked in the Indian Test team for the first time is always special, says rookie all-rounder Vijay Shankar
The day when Hardik Pandya was released from the Indian squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka, Vijay Shankar scored a stroke-filled century for Tamil Nadu against Odisha. A few days before that knock, he had scalped four wickets in an innings against Mumbai on a wicket that was assisting the batsmen.
When the news of Hardik given a rest to manage his workload was out, I remember asking the Tamil Nadu all-rounder whether he was expecting a national call-up, a humble Vijay had replied, "Definitely, no. I have to do well here (against Odisha) now."
And a week later, Vijay was called up to the Indian team ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka after Bhuvneshwar Kumar asked for a release from the Indian side for his wedding.
I shot the same question again - Whether he was expecting a call-up when Hardik was released? Vijay, though, stood by what he had said last week.
Talking about his selection, the 26-year-old admitted that playing for the country was his childhood dream, and that this is a very special moment for him.
"I don't know how to express it (national selection). Getting picked in the Indian team, that too the Test team, for the first time is always a special moment for anyone. A lot of times, I have dreamt of playing for the Indian team and now, it has come true. My hard work has paid off. I am very excited and looking forward to it," Vijay told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
In spite of being named in the side, his exclusion in the playing XI for the second Test at Nagpur is highly unlikely. However, the 26-year-old is prepared to take to the field in case he is handed his Test cap.
When asked about the goals he has set for himself, Vijay admitted, "I didn't set any goals for myself. First of all, I don't know whether I will play or not. If I get a chance, I just want to go there and play well."
With India scheduled to tour South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand after the Sri Lanka series, a seam-bowling all-rounder might be handy for the Virat Kohli-led team. With Hardik's place already sealed, a decent outing will make Vijay a contender for the overseas trips. Moreover, presence of both the all-rounders in the squad will give the team management a lot of options.
"To be honest, I am not thinking about those tours. As of now, I am not expecting anything. I just want to do well if I get a chance. If things go my way, I will be happy. But, I am not thinking about the future now," he concluded.
With the wickets likely to be assisting the pacers in the next couple of matches, Vijay's presence will bring more balance to the team. He is a quality player and has rightfully earned his place in the national side.
If Vijay gets a chance to make his national debut, he just needs to work on extending the good run he is in. Irrespective of his selection in the XI, we, at Sportskeeda, congratulate him for his maiden call-up and wish him good luck for his future assignments.