India all-rounder Vijay Shankar has expressed his excitement ahead of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, citing the heavy presence of Indian fans as something to look forward to.
Anticipating a potential "50/50" split in the World Cup stadia, Shankar said that delivering a match-winning performance for the supporters, even just once, would delight him. "I will keep working hard on all aspects of my game, whenever the opportunity comes I will always try my best for the team," he said.
"The last few years, from travelling, you see a lot of supporters all over the world, and they’re definitely going to be there (in England), 50/50 sometimes.
"It’s going to be really nice to experience that and I’m looking forward to that experience. Even if it is just one match that I win for the team, I’ll be very happy about that."
The 28-year-old asserted that despite the increased fanfare and perceived pressure that comes with playing in cricket's flagship tournament, the India team will take it in their stride, and he expressed the importance of remaining humble having been granted the opportunity to represent their country.
"Ever since I started watching cricket, I knew the World Cup was one of the biggest things to be a part of. We used to sit and watch each and every ball and it was a special feeling.
"The pressure is going to be there every game, but if we starting thinking about the bigger stage and how it is a World Cup it can affect your own instincts. Whatever we have practised and worked hard for, it is important to go in and react to whatever happens. You just have to be prepared for whenever you get the opportunity. You have to enjoy it, because it is the best thing to represent your country."
Shankar made a belated start to his full international career, having featured prominently for the 'A' side in recent years. He earned an ODI call-up in early 2019 after an impressive tour against New Zealand A in late 2018, and after a few frustrating years that saw him exhibit good form but fall short of full selection due to injury, he is now finally making his stamp on the first team. "For the last three or four years I’ve been having pretty good 'A' series," he continued.
"The issue I had was the injury concern. I was out for quite a few months after every A tour, so I was missing out. This year has been pretty good, I had a good 'A' series in New Zealand recently which got me the Indian team call-up and it changed after that.
"I’m not someone who expects things to happen, I focus hard on my preparation."
He also appreciated the warm reception he received from India's players upon his arrival into the set-up, and tipped his side to carry on its sustained run of good form. "If you look at the last couple of years, we have been doing extraordinarily well, winning matches outside of the subcontinent and winning trophies," he said.
"They made me feel so easy, I never felt any pressure being a part of the dressing room.
"This is a dream for any cricketer to be a part of the Indian dressing room, and the best thing is when the people around you make you feel really comfortable. The pressure is going to always be there, so when people around you make you feel confident it eases you."
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