By the time official news of Vijay Shankar's selection for the limited-overs series in Australia and New Zealand came through late on Saturday night, the Tamil Nadu allrounder was already asleep. It was only at the crack of dawn on Sunday (January 13) as he was heading for practice that he found out about his maiden ODI call-up.
"Obviously, there is a lot of excitement. I was nervous actually on Saturday night when I started getting calls asking about my possible selection. The hint from journalists made me a bit nervous," Vijay, who will be joining the Indian squad on the eve of the second ODI against Australia in Adelaide, told TOI.
This will mark Vijay's comeback into the Indian team after that forgettable nightagainst Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas Trophy. Chasing a stiff 167 from 20 overs for victory in March last year, the 27-year-old had laboured to 17 from 19 balls before his statemate Dinesh Karthik bailed him and India out with a quick-fire cameo that culminated in a last-ball six.
For the next few days, Vijay was subject to the ire of Indian fans who trolled him incessantly on social media. Ten months on, Vijay says he has learned a lot about himself both as a person and cricketer. "That can happen to any cricketer. It happened to me at the start of my career. It is done now. After that, I have done well on 'A' tours and the IPL.
"It is very hard to change people's perceptions. But what I can do now is contribute to my team's success and win matches going forward. Next time that I face such a situation, I know what I should do and where I should look to score. I have learned how to handle pressure. I used to be pretty harsh on myself. I am just looking to enjoy everything now," says Vijay.
The fact that he did well for India 'A' on their tour of New Zealand last month should stand him in good stead too. In three one-day matches, he had scores of 87*, 59 and 42 and also picked up one wicket with his medium pace.
"I am looking forward to a great experience and learning a lot. I have done well in New Zealand recently. Definitely, the conditions are very different to what we get back in India. I have to analyse everything as quickly as possible and adapt to the conditions. If I can do that, it will serve me well," says Vijay.
With Hardik's immediate future in the game uncertain, Vijay has a great opportunity now to establish himself in the set-up ahead of the World Cup in May given the paucity of seam-bowling allrounders in the country. The Tamil Nadu limited-overs skipper, though, doesn't want to get into that mindset.
"I am not thinking about the World Cup at all to be honest. It is important to stick to my work ethics regardless of where I am playing. If I start thinking about making the World Cup squad, I don't think I will be enjoying whatever I have with me right now."