It didn’t last Thakur long to please his captain again. Thakur brushed off Rohit’s disappointment with him in his next turn and picked up Glen Phillips, who made a swell to the side and was caught by Virat Kohli. Place the game, Rohit and Thakur hugged and celebrated India’s 3-0 clean sweep of New Zealand.
It was a game that showed why the ‘Palghar Express’ remains an integral part of Team India’s ODI World Cup plans, even though it has lost its place in the T20 and Test and ODI formats for now. In a match where Rohit, Shubman and Conway battled breathtaking centuries, it was the Mumbaikar who walked away with the Player of the Match award, scalping 3 for 45 in his 6 overs.
Earlier in the game, he scored with a vital 25-run cameo, which took 17 balls and had three fours and a six. Coming in, India threatened to blow 313 for 6 in the 43rd over a dream start from Rohit and Gill. In him Hardik Pandya found the perfect ally as the duo added 54 in just 34 balls to give India a total they could count on, on a roady pitch.
Thakur bounced back after going for 30 in his first three overs going wicketless, and Thakur changed the complexion of the match with his second spell, breaking Daryl Mitchell and Tom Latham’s wickets off successive balls, before sending Phillips back in his next about.
Shardul Thakur. (PTI photo)
Asked about Thakur’s usefulness in the team after the game, Rohit raved about the 31-year-old. “He has a knack for taking wickets at the crucial moments for us. We’ve seen it not only in ODI cricket but also in Tests. He’s very critical of us and where we stand as a team. So I hope just that he continues to deliver this kind of performance and it will only benefit the team and give him confidence that he can come and collect wickets,” praised the Indian captain.
“This man is very smart, he has played a lot of domestic cricket and understands what needs to be done,” added Rohit. The Indian captain liked the way Thakur and his other teammates planned the sacking of his New Zealand counterpart Latham. “In this format you have to use your skills and he (Shardul) certainly has them. He bowled a good knuckle ball to Tom Latham today (Tuesday), nicely planned in the middle by Virat, Hardik and Shardul,” complimented Rohit. .
With 6 wickets in three ODIs @ 20.83, Thakur enjoyed quite a run against the Kiwis, justifying the decision to lead him in the first two games against the speedy Umran Malik. At 6.46 his economy rate was on the higher side, but then two of the games were played on extremely flat wickets, and ‘Lord Thakur’ is known as a partnership-braker, a bowler who goes for wickets rather than control. runs.
How much confidence Rohit has in his Mumbai teammate’s abilities can be gauged by the fact that India’s skipper asked him to bowl the Hyderabad final in the first ODI, when New Zealand had 20 to make, with a raging Michael Bracewell in full cry . Even though Bracewell hit him for a six on his first pitch, and the next pitch was ruled a ball, Thakur didn’t lose heart. He unleashed a leg stump yorker that pinned Bracewell up front, and India had won a close game.
It helped Thakur that he had a good outing in the Ranji Trophy leading up to this series, taking six for 122 (2-68 & 3-54) to help Mumbai take a huge win over Assam. Excluded from the Indian test team for the iconic series against Australia, despite not being in the XI for both tests in Bangladesh, he has not played a T20I since February last year.
He may not be an all-rounder in Hardik Pandya’s league. Nor is he the ace in the pack Muhammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj. Nor does he have a deadly pace like Umran Malik. What Thakur has is some swing, a lot of heart and some useful hitting skills that can come in handy in vital moments.