New Delhi (Reuters): India plan to groom rookie Vijay Shankar as a back-up pace bowling all-rounder with an eye on future overseas tours, skipper Virat Kohli said on the eve of the second test against Sri Lanka beginning in Nagpur on Friday.
The hosts rested all-rounder Hardik Pandya for the ongoing three-test series against their neighbours which remains tied after the drawn series opener in Kolkata.
With paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar released from the side over personal reasons, the team added 26-year-old Shankar into the squad for the remaining two tests.
“Obviously, Hardik is in our scheme of things as the first all-rounder but we need to find more people who have that kind of ability, who we can groom and make a back-up for the all-rounder’s spot which is very crucial when we travel abroad,” Kohli told reporters.
“That’s the whole mindset behind bringing him and keeping him in the setup, making him familiar with what’s going on here, making him understand what he needs to work on and we can look at his game as well.”
A middle-order batsman who can bowl medium pace, Shankar could make his international debut on Friday with Kohli sounding impressed with the youngster who has played 32 first class matches.
“He’s a pretty balanced cricketer, pretty composed,” the India captain said. “He’s a great fielder, handy with the ball – will give you 10 spells over the day – and is very solid with the bat. It’s a big moment for him and he has earned it.”