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How a Pakistan fan tried to rile up India’s players ahead of 2019 World Cup clash

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Vijay Shankar, the India all-rounder, opened up on his experience of facing Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup and recalled an incident when a Pakistan fan hurled abuses at Indian players.

Speaking on the Bharat Army Podcast, Shankar, who had played only nine One-Day Internationals before facing Pakistan on the biggest of stages, revealed how the team management informed him of his selection in the playing XI: “So one day before the game, they told me, be prepared, you’ll be playing. And I was like, ‘OK.’”

The 29-year-old was a part of the group of Indian players who were hurled abuses at by a Pakistan fan a day before the game. “Few of us players had gone out for coffee one day before the game, when a Pakistan fan came up to us and he was literally abusing us,” he recalled. “So that was my first experience of an India-Pakistan game.

“We just had to take it. He was abusing us and recording everything, so we couldn’t react. All we could do was sit and watch what he was doing.”

The companionship of Dinesh Karthik helped him cope with the mounting pressure ahead of the match. “It’s very hard for me to sit in a room and do nothing,” he said. “I want to go out for a coffee and all and I had Dinesh Karthik with me. So the two of us would go out for coffee. We used to have some fun, which is very important, I feel, because the pressure is very high. So we just have to give some time to ourselves, ease out and chill.”

Shankar chipped in with both the bat and the ball against Pakistan, scoring 15 runs before picking a wicket off his first-ever World Cup delivery, that of opener Imam-ul-Haq. He dismissed Sarfaraz Ahmed as well, as India went on to win the rain-curtailed encounter by 89 runs.

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