Why Vijay Shankar should be in India's World Cup 2019 squad
Vijay Shankar, the stylish right-handed all-rounder whose backlift resembles that of former New Zealand international Brendon McCullum, had a great outing in the recently concluded tour of New Zealand.
After a horrific collapse in the 4th ODI in New Zealand where India recorded their biggest ever defeat (in terms of balls remaining), Shankar was included in the playing 11 for the final ODI to add more solidity, and the all-rounder didn’t disappoint.
The Indian top order collapsed once again and were reeling at 18-4. The Tamil Nadu batsman walked in at number 6 and showed great composure and match awareness on a spicy pitch along with Ambati Rayudu. The two batsmen stitched a match-winning partnership of 98 runs, allowing India to post a decent score of 252 and win the series 4-1.
Shankar joined the squad only after India’s first choice fast-bowling allrounder in Hardik Pandya was suspended owing to the comments made by the Baroda all-rounder on a chat show.
After burying the ghosts of the Nidahas Trophy final, Vijay Shankar has had a decent stint with the India A squad in the past six months. The Tamil Nadu allrounder recently powered India A to a 4-wicket win over New Zealand A, scoring an unbeaten 80 ball 87 in a superbly scripted run chase.
Shankar also bowled with an economy of less than five runs per over. He followed that knock with a 56-ball 59 in another successful chase at the same venue. He ended the series with a 42-ball 43, helping India post a formidable total and win the series in New Zealand.
He was the highest run scorer in the three-match series, scoring more than India's formidable top order that included the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, and Manish Pandey.
Vijay Shankar is technically more sound than Hardik Pandya as a batsman and can even bat up the order at 4, 5 and 6. Taking into account his recent performances, he has certainly made a strong case for himself for World Cup selection.
It is always good to have an extra allrounder in the squad, and Shankar adds variety to the Indian team that currently lacks proper allrounders other than Hardik. Although his bowling isn’t as effective as Hardik's, he can be a good back-up option to the first choice allrounders in Pandya and Kedar Jadhav.
Moreover, keeping in mind Jadhav's injury concerns, it is important to have someone like Shankar in the squad. In a tournament like the World Cup, if for some reason the first choice allrounders aren’t available, it would be an excellent option to play Shankar rather than resorting to the five-bowler theory used by Virat Kohli in the recent past. The five bowler theory hasn’t been fruitful and on a bad day can cost the team an entire match.
In conclusion, Shankar adds variety to the squad, and it will be good to have someone of his caliber in the team for the crucial World Cup.
India begin their World Cup campaign on the 5th of June against the men from the rainbow nation, South Africa at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Southampton.