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Don't Drop Vijay Shankar, He'll Win You England Game: Kevin Pietersen Advises Virat Kohli

Kevin Pietersen urged skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri not to drop under-fire Vijay Shankar from the team ahead of their clash against England in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.

News18 Sports

Updated:June 30, 2019, 11:51 AM IST
Don't Drop Vijay Shankar, He'll Win You England Game: Kevin Pietersen Advises Virat Kohli
Vijay Shankar and Virat Kohli (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Birmingham: Kevin Pietersen has backed under-fire India all-rounder Vijay Shankar, urging skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri not to drop him for Sunday's crunch game against the hosts England in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Shankar, who is currently occupying India's much debated number four slot in the batting order, has failed to cash in on the opportunity with scores of 29 against Afghanistan and 14 versus the West Indies. Batting at number six against arch-rivals Pakistan, the Tamil Nadu batsman remained not out on 15.

Although India, the only side to remain unbeaten so far in the tournament, won all the three matches, there have been calls to remove Shankar with the competition getting into its business end.

However, Pietersen, the former England skipper feels the 28-year-old will come good against England in the much-anticipated clash on Sunday at Edgbaston. "Dear Virat and Ravi (Shastri) -- please don't drop Vijay Shankar," Pietersen said in a tweet on Saturday. "I think he's coming into his own and would potentially win you tomorrow's game." Pietersen added that young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant, who has been drafted in the 15-member Indian squad as replacement to injured opener Shikhar Dhawan, is still not ready for a World Cup game and needs at least three weeks to prepare himself. "Don't think about Pant. He needs another three weeks preparation before I think he can get into your World Cup side." Needless to say, Pietersen was trolled by fans for his tweet. He though decided join in.

Kohli at the pre-match press conference said Vijay Shankar is very close to playing a defining knock for India in the World Cup.

Asked about his assessment of Shankar, Kohli said, "It's a strange one because he had a decent game against Pakistan. I think against Afghanistan on that pitch he looked really assured. Shot selection, again, we discussed with him for that game. Last game, again, he came out, he looked really good, and he got a beautiful ball from Kemar Roach."

Shankar scored 29 against Afghanistan and was involved in a 50 plus stand with his skipper.

"So you can't really sit down and pinpoint things. But I personally felt he looked really solid. There's not much that needs to be tinkered. Sometimes in cricket you just need a bit of luck to get over from 30 to 60, and then you play a defining knock for the team.

"He's very close to that, and we're very confident he's going to end up playing that kind of knock for us," Kohli said.

India currently are placed second in the 10-team table with 11 points from six matches. Pre-tournament favourites England, meanwhile, have lost their last two games against Sri Lanka and Australia and find themselves in a tough situation at fourth place with eight points from seven games. Top four teams qualify for the semifinals.

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