Virat Kohli on Thursday, November 23, lauded Vijay Shankar and said the Tamil Nadu all-rounder can prove to be "crucial" backup all-rounder during overseas tours.
Vijay was rewarded for his consistent performances in the domestic circuit and 'A' tours with an India call-up for the last two of the ongoing three-match Test series against South Africa.
The 26-year-old though needs to wait for his opportunity in the Indian team as Hardik Pandya has established himself as the first-choice all-rounder in the side with his match-winning performances across the three formats of the game. Notably, the Mumbai Indians star had replaced an injured Vijay in the India A side for their tour to Australia in 2016.
"He [Vijay] has been very consistent. He has earned his spot. We wanted to have a look at another all-rounder. It's a very important aspect of the team, going forward. Obviously Hardik is in our scheme of things as the first all-rounder," Kohli said on the eve of the second Test between india and Sri Lanka in Nagpur.
"But we had to find more people who have that kind of ability, groom them and have them as backups for the all-rounder spot, which is very crucial when we travel abroad. The whole mindset of bring him in is to make him familiar with the set up, make him understand what's going on and what he needs to work on.
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"He is a pretty balanced cricketer. Pretty composed, great fielder, handy with the ball. He can give you 10-12 overs a day. He is solid with the bat. I saw him at the nets as well. It is a big moment for him, he has earned it, as I said," the Indian skipper said.
Vijay has been a key member of the Tamil Nadu team ever since he made his first-class debut in 2012. He has played 32 first-class matches and has scored 1,671 runs, including five centuries at an average of 49.14. With his gentle medium pace, he has picked up 27 wickets as well.
Notably, Vijay earned praise from selection committee chairman MSK Prasad after he hit a ton for India A against Bangladesh last year in Hyderabad. He played a key role in helping Rahul-Dravid coached 'A' team in their wins against South Africa A on the road and New Zealand A at home earlier this year.
Meanwhile, India are expected to continue with their three-man pace attack at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium (VCA) Nagpur, which offered a dust bowl when South Africa came visiting in 2015, is expected to offer assistance to pacers in the second Test.