IPL 2023: Gujarat Titans all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who slammed an unbeaten 24-ball 51 in the side’s seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Saturday, lavished rich praise on the team management for playing a huge role off the field in keeping the players in a very good space in the dressing room.
In just their second season of featuring in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Gujarat, the defending champions in the ongoing season, have played in a very free-flowing style and have aced chases consistently, leading to them being on top of the points table currently.
“The team management plays a major role in keeping everyone in a very good space. We stick together and the amount of practice that we do is unbelievable. It’s not that other teams don’t do but we keep doing it for hours and hours. It helps us to get out of difficult situations and there will be difficult situations in IPL and T20 cricket. It’s about being together and communicating properly,” said Shankar in the post-match press conference.
Shankar also gave a glimpse into how the team management has given utmost clarity in the run-up to the matches. “They (team management) keep us in a really good space, that doesn’t mean just giving us what we want but doing the right things. In practice, we don’t just turn up, practice and leave. We practice with a purpose, which is very important.”
“They give us clarity, define roles and people are ready to go out and do it for the team. It’s a very special team because it’s not just the players but also the support staff and even the net bowlers. Everyone deserves credit. That is the positive vibe that is needed.”
Shankar is currently having an impressive time in IPL 2023, making 199 runs at an excellent strike rate of 165.83. But what has stood out the most has been his ball-striking skills, seen from him starting the turnaround with two fours and five sixes while sharing a decisive partnership of 87 runs in just 6.3 overs with David Miller, who was unbeaten on 32, to chase down 180 for Gujarat with 13 balls to spare.
“Before the IPL, I was out for five to six months with an injury. I came back and did well in the Ranji Trophy. I changed a lot of things and it worked for me. I changed my diet and not just physically, but even to the mental aspect of my game which I felt was important. All that together and with the team here, the management here helped me to get out of it properly. Happy that it is coming out good,” he stated.
Shankar getting runs in an ODI World Cup year has led to some humorous discussions on social media platforms of him likely clinching a spot in India’s squad for the global tournament to be held in October-November this year, just like how he made it to the 2019 World Cup squad in England. But the all-rounder stressed on living in the present and focusing on IPL 2023.
“It’s too far from here. Mentally I’m not really thinking about all that because that is not in my hands. All I can do is win matches for my team. That is the only satisfaction that I can take.”
“If that (ODI World Cup selection) happens, well and good. Even if it doesn’t happen, cricket is something we all love and that’s why we continue playing. No expectations, just want to enjoy my cricket.”
Gujarat’s next match in IPL 2023 will be at home in the Narendra Modi Stadium against Delhi Capitals on Tuesday.