India, April 16 -- Vijay Shankar's two-storey house in Madipakkam, a Chennai suburb, has nothing to distinguish it from its neighbours. That is, till you get to the terrace. Here, a high cricket net stands, 86 feet in length and 20 feet wide, lit by mast lights, with an astroturf pitch and a bowling machine. This is where Vijay was forged.

His father, H Shankar, a former Chennai club cricketer, built this facility 8 years ago, when Vijay took the decision to turn professional.

"Normally if you see any coaching centre, nets would not be more than 13 feet," Shankar says. "This one allowed him to play his shots and also know exactly where they were landing."

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Vijay...