Colombo: All-rounder Vijay Shankar says he doesn't want to put himself under pressure by drawing comparisons with India regular Hardik Pandya and would rather focus on improving his own skills.
Shankar claimed two crucial wickets to bag the Match-of-the-Match award as India defeated Bangladesh by six wickets in the second T20 international in the tri-series on Thursday evening.
"For me, what is more important is to get better and better every day. Because the pressure or comparing me with Hardik because he is also an all-rounder, I think most cricketers don't like comparison but it is important for us to show what we have and give our best instead of putting ourselves under pressure," he said.
He was answering a question on how he plans to enhance his chances of cementing a place in the team as an all-rounder, considering that Pandya has a stronghold on that position.
Shankar's maiden international wicket was delayed after Suresh Raina dropped a catch at mid-off and Washington Sundar also missed an attempt in the bowler's first over.
Asked if those dropped catches affected him, Shankar said: "That didn't affect me much because dropping catches is part of the game.
"Obviously I would have loved to get my first wicket at that time but as cricketers, we know it is not easy to field under lights with the white ball. I didn't give much importance to that, I was just focusing on bowling the next ball," he said.
Shankar, one of just six players to have 1,500 runs and 25 wickets in domestic cricket, said his hard work has finally paid off and it is a good start for him.
"It feels really great, I have been working really hard. I think the intensity with which I have been working, all that paid off with this and I feel it is just a start for me. As a cricketer, the constant thing is to keep improving and learning and I am really looking forward to the coming weeks," he said.
"I think the inner strength that I have helps me stay calm. Obviously when you are playing for India is special but I try to play each and every game seriously and my only thinking is to improve every day, so it has been good for me."
Shankar acknowledged the role of the team management, who gave him the freedom to express.
"I think the team management plays a huge part, they give us the freedom to express ourselves which is very important at this stage," he said.
"The pressure will always be there, if we enjoy the pressure then we will be able to do well but if we put ourselves under pressure then we can get into trouble."
India restricted Bangladesh to 139 for eight in 20 overs after electing to field.
"I think we bowled really good length. The important thing was we kept taking wickets and that we were able to restrict them to 138-139 and that is more important," Shankar said.