As they say ‘when one door closes another opens’, the events associated with Shardul Thakur in the recent weeks fully justifies the saying.
Just three weeks ago, Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur had posted the following message on Twitter: “Will play a semifinal t20 game tomorrow for my club payyade sc..playing a game after 2 months..ipl has done wonders .. Certainly (sic).”
The tweet, which has since been deleted, showed the frustration of a player who only played 1 match in two seasons for his franchise KXIP.
Thakur was eventually released by Kings XI Punjab, midway through the season along with some other unused players. He later told the media that he was hurt by the decision. The Mumbai lad had just come off a remarkable couple of seasons in domestic cricket and was expecting to get good exposure in the IPL.
Thakur had two strong showings in successive Ranji Trophy seasons. In 2014-15, he finished as the joint highest wicket-taker, alongside R Vinay Kumar, with 48 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 20.81. He followed that with 41 wickets in the 2015-16 season, the highest for Mumbai, to help the side clinch its 41st Ranji Trophy title. Overall, Thakur has 133 wickets in 37 first-class matches at an average of 27.53. He was also part of the India A squad that played four-day matches at home against South Africa A and Australia A last year.
Hard-work finally pays for the pacer:
On Monday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India rewarded Thakur for his perseverance by including his name in the 17-member squad that will tour the West Indies in July to play four Test matches.
With pacers like Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav in the squd, it is highly unlikely that Thakur will get a chance in the playing XI. But one cannot deny the fact that spending time with some of the best pacers of the nation will be beneficial for him.
Early days in cricket:
A 13-year old boy trudging to the railway station at around 3.30 am in Palghar, a town on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor, to catch the mail to reach Churchgate in the city centre of Mumbai to play cricket is not a common story in this day and age. A few gruelling years later, Thakur caught the eye of Dinesh Lad, the coach of Rohit Sharma and father of Mumbai Ranji player Sidesh, and life began to look up.
The performances that caught the eyes:
In November 2012, he made his first-class debut for Mumbai and returned figures of 1/82 in a match where his weight was discussed more than his bowling. After being criticized heavily for his weight, Thakur lost 13 kgs as he came back leaner and fitter the next season, and picked up 27 wickets at 26.25. The 2014-15 season was even better, Thakur finishing joint-top of the Ranji Trophy bowling charts with 48 wickets at 20.81. That earned him a call-up to the India A squad for four-day games against Australia A and South Africa A. Later that year, playing for the Board President’s XI, he bagged a four-wicket haul against the touring South Africans.
Well after seeing his performances in the last couple of years, it is no surprise that the pacer has found his way into the national team.
Here is what ace commentator Harsha Bhogle had to say about his selection:
Shardul Thakur had done everything asked of him and so almost forced his selection.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 23, 2016