Indian all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who became the latest player to suffer an injury scare after being hit on toe during a recent training session, has admitted that he is doing a lot better now and expected to play during his side's next International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup clash against Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Shankar was forced to miss the training session after being hit on his toes by a yorker from Jasprit Bumrah during a rain-hit practice session a day back. The Indian all-rounder was also seen walking around in slippers with a slight limp.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the Men in Blue's clash against the Gulbadin Naib-led side at the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground, Shankar was asked about the condition of his toes and if he would feature for the Men in Blue on Saturday.
"Personally, I've got a lot better. Yeah, hopefully," Shankar said in reply.
Shankar was called into the Playing XI for his side's high-octane 2019 World Cup against Pakistan as a replacement for Shikhar Dhawan, who has been ruled out of the ongoing cricket's showpiece event due to a thumb injury. The Indian all-rounder came to bat at No.5 position in the 46th over and scored an unbeaten 15-ball 15.
When quizzed if he felt any kind of extra pressure coming to bat during the end of the innings, Shankar said that it is not about taking that extra pressure, but it is all about taking the responsibility and delivering at the right time for the team.
"Definitely. That pressure will always be to deliver whatever the situation demands. So it's not about how powerful I am because I've also played down the order. I've also got experience playing at number 6, 7. It's not about taking that extra pressure. It's about taking extra responsibility and delivering it at the right time for the team," the ICC media quoted Shankar as saying.
It will now be seen if Shankar features in the Playing XI for India against Afghanistan or skipper Virat Kohli has to choose between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik for that slot.
Here is the full transcript of Shankar's interview which was published in the ICC Media zone:
Q. First tell us what is your condition about the toes.
Shankar: Personally? Personally, I've got a lot better.
Q. A lot better?
Q. Will you be able to play?
Shankar: Yeah, hopefully.
Q. Were you surprised that it landed on your toes?
Shankar: Actually, when you play someone like Bumrah, you always expect that. Still, sometimes we do miss that.
Q. The team has possibly got off to as good a start as it could have expected. From the team's point of view, how do you keep going? Are there areas that you think needs improvement? How do you guard against complacency?
Shankar: Yeah, definitely, being a professional, it's very important to keep improving and get better every day. That is the only thing which each and every individual think about. If you can keep getting better, we can set ourself better standards every game.
Q. (No microphone)?
Shankar: No, it's overall for me. I will look to get better in every aspect of the game. Sometimes it's better to understand the situation, which will be very important a few important times in this tournament.
Q. Hi, Vijay. Afghanistan have not had the best tournament so far. Their previous performance in the Asia Cup against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was pretty good. How is the conversation in the changing room? Will there be any major changes for tomorrow's game, or are you taking it as the other games?
Shankar: No, it's not about against whom we're playing. I think it's about how we play as individuals. As I said earlier, we always look to get better, even when we get to practice session. That is the only motive that we have. So we'll just look to get better. So it doesn't matter against whom we're playing. It's just about how we play against each and every individual. It should be the same.
Q. Vijay, does it really feel like you're playing the World Cup the way things are going on?
Shankar: No, definitely, first of all, it feels great to represent the country. World Cup is very special because it happens once in four years, so for every individual it's very special. The first important thing is representing the country. That feeling will always be there, be it World Cup or any other tournament.
Q. Vijay, this time last week you hadn't played in the World Cup. Now you've got a game under your belt, you've got runs, you've got a couple of wickets. Has that settled you down mentally getting into the tournament?
Shankar: Yeah, definitely it gives any player some confidence because that is really needed for any individual. Last game gave me some confidence, and especially playing against Pakistan, making my debut against them. It was a very special thing for me, performing under pressure and coming out good. The team winning at the end of the day is really important. It felt really good at the end of the day.
Q. Vijay, how do you think your bowling has evolved? Are there any specific things that you're looking to do? Like bowling fast or swinging it and stuff like that? Because that is the differentiating part in you, the fact that you are a fast bowling all-arounder.
Shankar: Yeah, I always look to get better in all three aspects of the game. I know I can keep getting better. I know I can bowl a lot better than what I am bowling even now. I'm just working on my bowling. I'm working -- whenever I get to a practice session, I make sure I improve a bit at least. I always have a good chat with my bowling coach and try and get better each and every day and look to get something from him which can help my bowling.
Q. Vijay, I wanted to know that, as the team strategy goes, they got the 35th over or 40th over, it's hard because going number for you. Does it create a pressure, if you're coming in at 46th or 47th over, like the kind of power hitting skills, you have to replicate that? Does it create another kind of pressure? Because probably you both have seen bowling all-arounders. So that creates the pressure?
Shankar: Definitely. That pressure will always be to deliver whatever the situation demands. So it's not about how powerful I am because I've also played down the order. I've also got experience playing at number 6, 7. It's not about taking that extra pressure. It's about taking extra responsibility and delivering it at the right time for the team.
Q. Vijay, can you disclose anything about the order? Anything you want to announce about the squad tomorrow?
Shankar: I don't know either. I'll know early in the morning tomorrow (laughter).
Q. The way that England dealt with Rashid Khan, he was supposed to be a great bowler. He's a great bowler, but he did suffer that day. Any plans to replicate an attack on Rashid?
Shankar: No, every day is different, and every wicket is different. You cannot take things for granted. So tomorrow might be a completely different scenario where we'll have to -- we might have to target him, or we might have to play off. So it is just about adapting ourselves to different situations as quickly as we can.
Q. Vijay, you've been with Rashid in the Sunrisers team. Really as a player, as a bowler, what are the -- how do you look at his development, and what is it that you have to watch out for when it comes to him?
Shankar: He's definitely one of the best bowlers right now in limited overs, and he has done well. For me, having played with him for a couple of years, it's very important for me to pick things from him, like whenever I bat against him in the nets, I try and pick his variations. Definitely, he's a good bowler. So anyone can go for runs every day. It is about how we come back strong.So for me, it is about how I play against him tomorrow. So that will be the key.