With Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul suspended by the BCCI until further notice for comments they made on an Indian talk show, the team management announced that Tamil Nadu al-rounder Vijay Shankar and under-19 star Shubman Gill as replacements. While Gill is expected to join the squad only for the New Zealand series, Shankar will be available for selection for the 2nd ODI against Australia that takes place on the 15th of January. With the 27-year-old expected to be granted his ODI debut tomorrow, here are a list of things you should know about Vijay Shankar. 

Cricket in the genes

The Tamil Nadu all-rounder’s father was an avid lover of the gentleman’s game and also played local league and club cricket. Vijay’s brother also plays league cricket. Seeing the sporting spark in his children, Vijay Shankar’s father constructed an indoor net in the house with astroturfing and a bowling machine. He was always supportive of Vijay’s cricketing ambitions and did not pressurize the children solely towards education. 

Idolizes and acknowledges Rahul Dravid

Shankar was part of the 2018 India A tour to New Zealand and was a key performer in the series for India. He credits the India A coach Rahul Dravid for his good performances and believes his tutelage helped his raise his game. Dravid promoted Shankar up the order to bat at five and instilled the confidence in him to develop as a finisher. The 27-year-old scored two crucial half-centuries in successful chases in that series and believes it was Dravid’s influence that made his trust that he “belonged” in International cricket. 

On the bench

Vijay Shankar was first picked in the Indian team in November 2017 for their tour to Sri Lanka when he was named as a replacement to injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the Test squad; but didn’t play a single game. He made his debut in the Nidhahas trophy against Sri Lanka a year later and scored a clinical 17 while Dinesh Karthik’s last ball six helped India over the line in the final against Bangladesh. Despite a decent showing at the Nidhahas trophy, Shankar was dropped from the T20 squad and hasn’t featured internationally after March 2018. Nevertheless, the Tamil Nadu player performed admirably in the Ranji trophy and has now earned his maiden ODI call-up due to the suspension of Hardik Pandya. 

Ranji sensation

In the 2014-15 season, Tamil Nadu reached the final of the Ranji trophy thanks mainly to the brilliance of Vijay Shankar. He scored a match-winning 111 and 82 in the quarterfinal against Vidharba; and was adjudged man of the match. In the semis against Maharashtra, he scored 91 and picked up two wickets to win a second successive man of the match for his contribution in Tamil Nadu’s win. Shankar scored a century in the final against Karnataka as well, but Tamil Nadu ended up losing that match. He averages just shy of 50 in domestic Test cricket with the bat, and even has 32 wickets to his name. Shankar’s Ranji brilliance helped him get picked by Delhi Capitals in the auction for a whopping 3.2 crores.