While playing down his chances of play in the upcoming ICC World Cup in England, a starstruck Vijay Shankar said that it was like living a dream to share the Team India dressing room with the legends of the game like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
"I was happy to be around with the seniors. Just watching them prepare for matches and learning. Moreover, I learnt a lot by watching Dhoni during run chases. I learnt a lot about how to pace an innings, especially during chases. I learnt about his mindset.
"It was a great experience to share the dressing room with names like Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma. It is important to watch and learn from the seniors in the team," Shankar, who returned on Monday, told PTI during an interaction.
The all-rounder, who made few decent outings during India's tour Down Under, said that he now wants to finish games like Dhoni.
The 28-year-old played in one ODI match against the Aussies, then featured prominently in the twin-series against New Zealand. He impressed in all three Twenty20 Internationals against the Kiwis, playing promising knocks. Prior to ODIs, the Tirunelveli-born showed his all-round abilities in the limited chances he got.
Shankar, who had confessed after the final T20I that he was surprised when promoted up the order to No 3, said that he was specifically told by the team management before the start of the series.
"I was surprised but at the same time was very happy to be asked to bat at number three. I was told before the series started that I would bat at one-drop. In T20s, there is not much time to settle down and the approach needs to be positive."
Though he got a few 40's, Shankar lamented that he couldn't take the team home during the final match of the tour. India won the five-match ODI series 4-1, their biggest winning margin in New Zealand. But failed to pass the last hurdle in the T20Is, losing the three-match series 1-2.
"I thought I should have got more runs. Also, I felt disappointed that I could not take the team home in the third T20. I had the chance. It is a learning experience for me. I need to adapt faster and also be consistent..." he added.
He got an important partnership with Ambati Rayudu in Wellington ODI when India were 18 for 4 and he cherished batting in challenging conditions.
"When I walked in at 18 for 4, it was all about playing time and building a partnership (with Rayudu). It was a good challenge as the New Zealand bowlers were bowling well. We had a good partnership. I should have gone on and made a big score..." he added.
The Tamil Nadu all-rounder, who has been around the India 'A' set-up for a while before graduating to the senior side, said his focus is on constant improvement while adding that he saw every match as an opportunity to do well.
"I have done the hard work and got the opportunity in the national team. Now my focus is on constant improvement. I have to step up and do well in every match I get to play. I see each game as an opportunity to do well," he added.
Having already made his presence felt, the Indian selectors will find it hard to overlook Shankar when the final preparation for the ICC World Cup starts. And he's in the mixed of things with chief selector MSK Prasad saying that the Tamil Nadu player was in the reckoning for a spot in the World Cup squad.
"I don't want to think too far ahead. I want to do well in every game. Every day is important for me..." he said.
"I still need to fine-tune a few things. I will also work with my childhood coach S Balaji, a former ICF cricketer, with whom I have worked for more than 13 years, whenever I am in Chennai," he added.
The 28-year-old Tamil Nadu cricketer, who made his ODI debut against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground before the New Zealand series, said it was a big thing and "a happy feeling" to get started at an iconic venue.
"Yeah... to make my ODI debut at the MCG was a big thing and a happy feeling. Having watched so many matches and dreamt of playing at such venues, I was delighted to play there," he added.
(With PTI inputs)