Putting all-rounder tag on Vijay Shankar is too much, feels Lakshmipathy Balaji

Shankar is a potential candidate to bat in the top five after his show in Nagpur.

Vijay Shankar
Vijay Shankar. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Vijay Shankar took a giant stride towards making his first World Cup squad on Tuesday when he slammed a 41-ball 46 in the second ODI against Australia and taking two wickets in the final over of the Kangaroos’ chase to stop them eight runs short of the target. From India captain Virat Kohli to a number of experts, the 28-year-old gathered immense praise for his timely shows both with the bat and ball and help India take a robust 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

Although Vijay was picked as a replacement for all-rounder Hardik Pandya during the ODI series Down Under in January, his performances have now made the management think seriously about his capabilities that can be exploited in the WC starting in May.

However, though Vijay has been tagged as an “all-rounder” by many, former India pacer and current bowling coach of Tamil Nadu Lakshmipathy Balaji feels that attaching the all-rounder tag with the talented batsman is “too much”. The 37-year-old said Vijay Shankar is a “fantastic batsman” and a “very capable bowler” and stopped short of calling him as an outright all-rounder.

He is phenomenal as a pure batsman

Speaking to DNA from Chennai, the former cricketer said, “Just as a pure batsman, Vijay is phenomenal. His bowling is gaining momentum. He is making genuine contributions with the ball, though the numbers may not be that great. At best, he is the third or fourth seamer who needs to get his seam position right. That said, he bowled a phenomenal length in the T20I in Bengaluru against Australia after captain Kohli gave him the new ball.”

Vijay added crucial 81 runs with Kohli after India found themselves in a spot of bother at 75 for 3 before getting run-out in an unfortunate manner. He was set for a certain half-century but missed it. He came to the party again in the final over of the game when Australia required 11 runs with 2 wickets in hand.

Vijay picked both the wickets, his first in ODIs, in three balls to give India a memorable win. His first wicket was Marcus Stoinis, who was batting on 52 and looked dangerous to run away with the game. Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar too said in a tweet after the match that it was important to focus on Vijay as the batsman and not all-rounder.

Vijay has taken five wickets in nine T20Is so far. In 41 first-class games, he has 32 scalps at an average of 50.93. Balaji said Vijay loves to accept challenges and like he did in Nagpur, the tall cricketer has done it a number of times for Tamil Nadu.

“Vijay is one who will take the ball and bowl, breaks partnerships most of the times. Often, he has done the crucial role of changing the course of the game. That shows his ability to deliver when the team requires him more.” Balaji further added.

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