HomePlayers CareerShardul Thakur: Not So Much of a Cricketer

Shardul Thakur: Not So Much of a Cricketer

Cricketers are probably some of the most athletic people on the planet. Some of the most wonderful human specimens one could ever come across. Tall, athletic, and muscular being some of the qualities.

Curtly Ambrose, 6 foot 7 inches tall, steams in full tilt, bowls fast, furious with no end in sight.

Sachin Tendulkar, just 5 feet 5, absolutely compact batting technique, is almost bothered by nothing from 70 kmph to 155 kmph, and can bat for days on end.

Adam Gilchrist, a 6’2 wicketkeeper with superhuman stamina, could keep the wickets for 50 overs or 90 overs in a day and still come out all guns blazing when walking into bat.

Shardul Thakur is basically nothing of those. He is a barely average height lad with not exactly the most easy-on-the-eye batting technique, nor does his bowling touch the 140-click mark too often, does not hit the deck hard or even consistent enough to keep the run rate under control for a long time.

But what does Shardul Thakur have? Well, honestly, he has what one would describe as the typical Mumbaikar grind mentality. He has the ability to conjure something out of nothing, the daily travels from his native Palghar to the bright lights of Mumbai have carved out what probably is the wildest of wild cards of the modern Indian cricket era.

December 21st, 2006. When most of the world was busy preparing for the joys and celebrations of Christmas, when most of the Indian adolescents were busy with exams and studies, A 15-year-old Shardul was busy creating a name for himself in the Harris Shield, hitting 6 sixes in an over on his way to a whirlwind century.

None of the things about him added up to a cricketer. Chubby physique, barely a decent fielder, temperamental to a fault, often not really as the one to watch out for, but one doesn’t simply get the nickname “Lord” for no reason. After mostly dull stints at Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants from 2014 to 2017, the return of CSK to the IPL brought Shardul to the proper limelight of the IPL in 2018, a stage where he would finally shine and a moment not too late.

The Qualifier IPL 2018, with the team reeling while chasing a rather modest total and Faf Du Plessis watching the carnage unfold from the other end. Shardul provided Du Plessis with some much-needed support only to prove his mettle right when his team needed it the most, scoring 15 runs in the penultimate over of the game to help take CSK to the final.

Or him evolving from just a net bowler to a miracle maker within just one week when Bumrah, Shami, Umesh and Ishant all fell to injuries down under and Shardul had to be the first change pacer, just 2 years after having had a nightmare of a test debut against West Indies.

After all, getting a wicket on his first ball back onto the red ball stage is a sure-shot sign of a miracle maker, isn’t it?, and if that wasn’t enough, he came back to clean up Tim Paine and Pat Cummins to restrict Australia to 369 and then the Coup de grĂ¢ce when the team was down and out at 186/6 in the first innings, counterattacking the feared quartet of Australia almost in submission.

But the devil is always in the detail. Shardul’s heroics at Gabba or Oval are hidden to none, but there are a few certain things not everyone remembers.

Just a month and a half after his match-defining performance at Gabba, Shardul would turn up for his home team Mumbai against Himachal Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. After being 49/4, Shardul would walk into bat at the 31st over mark with the score at 148/5. His blazing knock of 92 off just 57 deliveries would help Mumbai get another 170 runs in the last 20 overs, ending up at 321/9 from a dreadful 8/3.

On March 3rd 2014, Shardul would walk into bat for Mumbai in the Ranji trophy semifinal against Tamil Nadu with his team tottering at just 106/7 in response to Tamil Nadu’s 146 and a rampaging Sai Kishore having accounted for 5 out of Mumbai’s top 7 batters. He would build a 105-run stand with Hardik Tamore, blazing to his fifty in just 58 deliveries. His second fifty would come in double quick time, just 32 deliveries meant Shardul had scored his first ever first-class century with a rather ugly yet powerful-looking six over long-off of the bowling of left-arm spinner Ajith Ram on an occasion as auspicious as the Ranji trophy knockout, leaving his 144 runs ahead before he was dismissed.

Ultimately, Shardul Thakur is neither a fast and furious pacer like a Starc or Wood nor a dependable lower-order bat like Chris Woakes or Pat Cummins, but the kind of things he makes happen so often in so many unfavourable situations are more than enough to leave any world-class cricketer feeling a hint of envy, may it be Gabba, Oval, Johannesburg or his latest bit in Mumbai.


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