Shardul Thakur has been a consistent member of Indian teams for the past few years despite never appearing to be so. In Test cricket, he has been selected as the fourth seamer when conditions prevent the selection of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Now, in the lead-up to the ODI World Cup, Thakur is a contender for the No. 8 position, balancing seam-bowling duties with Hardik Pandya and providing useful batting and striking depth in the lower order.
India was eager to experiment with the 31-year-old during the ODI series against the West Indies, so he played in every match. Although he had few opportunities to demonstrate his batting prowess, his eight wickets at an average of 11.62 in three games provided further evidence of his value to the team. This included career-best figures of 4 for 37 against Trinidad on Tuesday.
Thakur acknowledged that it is inevitable for a few players to be interested in World Cup selection, but he is thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to him and is not looking too far ahead. He is, however, cognizant of his contributions. “As an all-around player who batters in the lower order, my function becomes increasingly significant. In lengthier pursuits or when attempting to post a large total, it has been observed that teams will attempt to accelerate while losing a few wickets here and there. Thakur stated, following India’s 200-run victory, that if the No. 8 and No. 9 can contribute with a batsman who has batted for a long time, that role is vital.
“Whenever I get an opportunity, I just try and contribute towards the team’s success. That’s my thought process – whether it’s in batting, bowling or fielding. I’m not the kind of player who plays for his place in the team. If I play with that thought, I don’t think I’ll be able to play,”.
“Even if they [team management] don’t pick me for the World Cup, it will be their call, I can’t do much. It will be wrong of me to think that I need to play for my place, that I’ll do my job and leave. I’ll have to see what the match situation is, and what the requirement of the team is whether I get personal success or not. That is one thing I keep repeating – no matter what, I’ll try to play for the team and make an impact.”
“I missed just one series – the home series against Sri Lanka. Not sure why I wasn’t picked for that. But I’ve been a part of all the one-day teams in the last two years. Whenever I get a chance to play, I remind myself that the team has confidence in me, and that’s why I’m a part of it. Even in this series, I got an opportunity and I could pick eight wickets.”
While Thakur appeared in every game of the series, India was unable to use premier leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Part of the reason may be the realization that the team can only field Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav if they sacrifice their batting depth. Thakur believed that Chahal’s confidence wouldn’t be negatively affected by missing one series.
“We have a strong bench strength. So, there will be a lot of times when someone won’t get to play a lot of matches or series. Yuzvendra Chahal is a very good player, he has performed for many years and proved himself. Now, whether to play him or not is the management’s decision. The kind of player he is, whenever we play him, he will surely perform. We’ve seen that whenever he plays, he picks up a lot of wickets, whether it is one-day or T20. He always contributes to the team’s success. So, I don’t think not playing one series would demoralize him. He has won several games in the past,” Thakur said.