Virat Kohli speaks about reason behind inclusion of Vijay Shankar
Indian captain Virat Kohli believes all-rounder Vijay Shankar has "earned his spot" in the Indian Test side after his inclusion for the remainder of the Test series against Sri Lanka. He also revealed that the search for "back-ups for an all-rounder spot" is the reason behind the inclusion of the Tamil Nadu all-rounder.
Kohli also reiterated that Hardik Pandya, who has been rested for the Sri Lanka Test series, remains the side's first-choice all-rounder but added that they are still looking for back-up.
Speaking at the press conference ahead of the second India-Sri Lanka Test at Nagpur, Kohli said: "Obviously Hardik is in our scheme of things as the first all-rounder but we need to find out more people who have that kind of ability, who we can groom and make as back-ups for an all-rounder spot, which is very very crucial for us when we travel abroad."
On the reason for Vijay Shankar's inclusion, who he admitted has been very consistent, the Indian captain said: "So that is the whole mindset of bringing him in, keeping him in set-up, making him familiar with what's going on here, making him understand what he needs to work on and look at his game as well.
"He is a pretty balanced cricketer, he is composed. He is a great fielder, handy with the ball, He can easily give you 10-12 overs in a day. He is very solid with the bat, I just saw him at the nets as well. So a big moment for him. He has earned it."
The 26-year-old all-rounder from Tamil Nadu received his maiden Test call-up when the India squad for the remainder of the Test series was announced. With Hardik Pandya rested and Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar missing out due to personal reasons, the right-hander found himself in the squad for the remaining two Tests, which will take place in Nagpur and Delhi.
From over 30 first-class matches, he has an average of almost 50 with the bat and has also proven himself to be a handy bowler, who can chip in with a few wickets. With the pitch expected to assist the seamers again in Nagpur and with Kohli keen to try out new options in the all-rounder department, the Tamil Nadu star might yet make his international debut against Sri Lanka.