Shardul Thakur has come down a long way from taking the domestic circuit by a storm to making a place for himself in a splendid medium pace attack of the current Indian team which consists of the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. The young Mumbai pacer showed glimpses of his brilliance with the white ball when he troubled the Proteas in South Africa with his unpredicted variations. Bouncing back from an ordinary outing in the opener at the R Premadasa, Colombo against Sri Lanka, Thakur showed what he was capable of when he picked four wickets in the second meeting with the hosts at the same venue.
Stepping up to lead the pace attack, Thakur was phenomenal in India’s six wickets victory over Sri Lanka to avenge the bitter loss in the opening encounter just a few days back. The young Mumbai pacer who is currently carrying India’s fast bowling mantle along with Jaydev Unadkat and Vijay Shankar is aware of his role in the side and is ready to lead from the front in the absence of the senior bowlers. Thakur assured he won’t let the absence of Bhuvi and Bumrah being felt in the ongoing Nidahas Trophy 2018 tri-series.
India restricted Sri Lanka on a low key total of 152 in their 3rd clash of the Nidahas Trophy, a match which would decide their course in the tournament, with a sensational effort from Shardul Thakur, who got his first wicket in the Sri Lankan skipper Danushka Gunathilaka. Before Gunathilaka could have started his assault, Thakur got him play up in the air and Suresh Raina, who has been enjoying a decent outing on the field made no mistake to give India a much-needed breakthrough.
Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera became his other three victims, earning him his maiden 4 wickets haul in an Indian jersey. When queried about his current role in the side as a back-up to the senior players and the pressure of dealing with their absence, Shardul was confident in his response. “I have told one thing before: I love challenges. I am taking it as a challenge.”
“If other senior bowlers are missing from the team, then I have to step up. I have done this previously for other teams that I have played for. I have come in place of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar while playing for Mumbai (in Ranji Trophy). I had to step up in that role. When senior bowlers are rested, I have to step up and fill that role to lead the pace attack,” he said on a confident note.
Shardul Thakur has worked hard to master the knuckle ball (A variation produced with slower delivery), he is one of those rare young medium pacers who possess the ability to execute the deceiving delivery with perfection. Though the Indian bowlers have used the technique largely in recent times, Shardul says, he has been practising the style before it was brought alive by Zaheer Khan.
“[Zaheer] did it actually, but I didn’t watch much of his videos,” Thakur said. “I always knew what the grip was, and then I learned it on my own. I have been practising it for a long time. It didn’t come easily. Whenever I found time to play with white ball while playing domestic cricket, I used to try knuckle ball. Probably for two years, I have been practising it now,” he added.
Shardul was thrashed for 24 runs in his very first over of the tournament but came back stronger and corrected his errors to finish as the top bowler of the day against Sri Lanka in their second meeting in the tri-series. He said the Indian bowlers executed their plans well in the victories against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.