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Switching to pace resulted in change of fortunes: Vijay Shankar

The all-rounder speaks about his decision of switching from being a spinner to a medium-pacer, the call-up into the Test squad and more…

Focused, disciplined, sharp were a few traits that were visible when Vijay Shankar took to India’s nets session prior to the 2nd Test against Sri Lanka.

The lanky all-rounder, who was named as Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s replacement for the 2nd Test, joined the team in Nagpur and has been on the go for the past two days, preparing himself for the challenges ahead.

His catches in the slip were sharp and he was taking every throw-down with utmost seriousness, under the watchful eyes of the Head Coach Ravi Shastri. The Head Coach and the Captain are of the opinion that even though Hardik Pandya remains the first priority as a fast bowling all-rounder, it is viable to nurture another such talent with the Indian team travelling for long tours overseas.

The 26-year old Vijay has been a permanent feature in the India A set-up for the past three years and has also represented Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. His ability to swing the ball and bowl accurately has only added to his reputation.

From starting his cricket as a spinner, the need to become a medium-pace all-rounder, idolising Rahul Dravid, Vijay Shankar speaks to BCCI.TV on his maiden call-up to the Test squad in the video below.

Rajlaxmi Arora
Rajlaxmi Arora

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I believe in empowering players: B Arun

India’s Bowling Coach B Arun in a tete-a-tete on the versatility of the unit, his role and more…

Fit, agile, accurate are a few adjectives that describe Virat Kohli and his current Indian team. With all departments of the game duly covered, it makes this team one of the best in world cricket as it stands firm as No.1 Test team and joint No.1 in ODIs.

While the batting prowess has been on display for a while, the bowling unit has come to the fore off late with some exceptional performances and revelations.

Legends of the game call the current Indian bowling unit as one of the best and versatile line-up with a lot of young guns pitching in with some spellbinding performances.

From a debutant picking up four crucial wickets against world-class batsmen and changing the course of the game to another pace bowler who picked up the most wickets in a bilateral series featuring five matches, the young guns have come on in leaps and bounds.

We at bcci.tv, caught up with Team India’s bowling coach, Mr. B Arun and found out more about the current bowling setup, rotation policies and more….

Excerpts:

You were a part of the coaching team a couple of years ago and you came back this year. What do you make of this Indian team, especially the bowling unit?

I am honoured to be a part of this Indian team. It just feels like you’ve never left this team. There was a year’s gap, but having worked earlier with the same team and coming back again this year feels like you’re home again. What I make of this team is that it is probably one of the most versatile bowling attacks India has ever had. Extremely talented, which could suit any conditions.

Cricket pundits call this bowling unit as one of India’s best with the armory equally poised in Test cricket and limited overs. Your thoughts?

Like I mentioned that this is India’s most versatile bowling attack. Each one is different. If you look at the four fast bowlers we have, each one is very unique. Umesh Yadav is very good with the new ball and the old ball as he reverses it well.

Ishant Sharma has got the extra bounce, which makes him that potent.

Mohammed Shami has one of the best seam positions in world cricket.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar can move the ball both ways and they all do it at a very good pace, which is close to 140 plus all the time. That makes each one of them extremely potent and also the fact that we have Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the Test matches who are amongst the top 5 spinners in the world. They are backed up by Kuldeep Yadav who’s an upcoming and talented bowler. So, this augurs very well for the Indian team.

Sir, Bhuvi recently mentioned about your contribution to the bowling setup and how it’s invaluable. Tell us more about it.

My job is to give feedback to the players, most often what they are actually doing compared to what they think they are doing; they are two different things. So, my job is to bridge that gap and the way you do it is by empowering them, make them more aware of what they are doing. Their arm positions, their body positions, release and things like that for which I effectively use videos to give them the feedback and once they understand those positions well, it’s very easy for them to get back to their basics.

You are one of the unsung heroes of the coaching unit. We only here the prominent whistles during the training sessions, but very little is known about you as a person. What do you have to say about it?

I guess you hear the whistles, which I blow during the nets session, but my job being one of the members of the support staff is related to doing the backdoor work. I will only strive harder to give the bowlers better feedback. If there is one thing that I believe in, it is empowering the players. They have the skill, they have the fitness and once they understand themselves more, it gives them the best chance to go out there and succeed.

Coming back to India’s bowling, if you were to pick up a few recent spells that impressed you the most, what would they be?


On the basis of recent spells, I would say that the Test match in Kandy against Sri Lanka when the fast bowlers bowled on a placid wicket, they looked really quick.

Especially, Shami and Umesh Yadav. They were brilliant and in fact, the Sri Lankan team said that for a minute they thought they were playing in England. Shami was clocking 145 plus throughout and that is probably one of the best spells that I have seen him bowl.

Also, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s spell against Australia in the ODI here in Kolkata. These would probably be my pick of the spells.

You have made clear the rotation policy will continue as it is keeping in mind the number of matches India has been playing through the year. Will it continue for a while now?

Yes, it should continue as it has worked very well for us as it keeps the bowlers fresh. It’s not easy to play all forms of the game and remain fresh throughout. It gives specialist bowlers a chance to perform in each format and this way, we also have a great pool of bowlers to choose from and they could fill in for the gap anytime we want them to. 

Rajlaxmi Arora

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