India cricket star Vijay Shankhar during a tour of Old Trafford.

Shankar: Old Trafford gave me goosebumps

The ‘other’ Old Trafford was the centre of the sporting world last Sunday, when India and Pakistan met in the Cricket World Cup at the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club.

India won the match comfortably, by 89 runs, thanks to some stellar individual performances, one of which came from all-rounder and United fan Vijay Shankar, who had visited Manchester United to take part in a stadium tour on Friday afternoon.

Vijay, who was making his World Cup debut, took a wicket with his very first ball and finished with impressive bowling figures of 2-22.

Two days beforehand, the 28-year-old – who was joined on the tour by team-mates Dinesh Karthik and Yuzvendra Chahal – told us that he frequently took inspiration from his United heroes to help develop his game.

“I started supporting from 2006,”
explained Vijay,
“and I’m a great fan of Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick. I just love the way they played. Wayne Rooney is someone who is a worker – he never stops running – and Carrick is someone who is so composed. 

“I was able to relate a lot to the character of someone like Carrick, who is very calm. So I started watching all these [players]. Since I’m also in sport, there are a lot of similarities that many sports people might have, so I love to see the good things that each and every sports person has – someone like Rooney or Carrick. Whoever plays for Manchester United, it’s a great club. 

“Ever since I started following it, I’ve watched almost all of the games, and it’s a dream for me to be here, and I’m just loving it. As soon as I entered here [Old Trafford] I just had goosebumps.”

Few sporting events are more intense than cricket matches between India and Pakistan, because the sides rarely meet outside tournaments due to political tensions.

But Shankar says that he has been able to draw insights from professionals in other sports, like football, to help him deal with such occasions.

“There have been a lot of great players here in Manchester United, and to see each and every individual perform in a high-pressure game, to handle the situation, to come out so good each and every time they walk out - it’s a great experience for any individual [to see] and as someone who is also in sport, I relate a lot to these things.

“The amount of fitness that each individual has to do in this sport is just unbelievable, so it’s a great way to learn for me. [Marcus] Rashford is my favourite, and I’ve started liking Andreas Pereira. I have a feeling he’s going to be the next big thing for United.”

India stars Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and Yuzvendra Chahal at Old Trafford.
India stars Yuzvendra Chahal, Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar at Old Trafford.
Vijay also admits he and his team-mates love to relax by playing a bit of football – though caution over injuries means they have to be careful.

“Everyone loves playing.
“ he said. ”
It’s been our warm-up sometimes, but we’ve had a few injuries and they have become a major concern for us, so sometimes it’s good to stay away from it during the [cricket] season. But I’ve played with my team-mates and we enjoy playing and enjoy watching a lot. We always have great fun when we play football.

“Football is massive [in India]. Everyone is into some sport, and football is something which most of them love. I’m seeing a lot of people forming five-a-side teams, and then they go and play a lot of football. A lot of places have opened up for the people to go and play. So it is just growing bigger and bigger, and people are loving it.”


India continue their World Cup campaign on Saturday, when they face Afghanistan in Hampshire on Saturday 22 June. Vijay and his team-mates face England on Sunday 30 June at Edgbaston.

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