"Once-in-a-lifetime moment" - Shardul Thakur promises to make the most of WTC final opportunity
Indian pace bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur vowed to maximize every opportunity to represent the country, especially in an ICC event final. India will lock horns with Australia in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Oval, starting on Wednesday, June 7.
Shardul was also part of the Indian squad for the last WTC final in 2021. However, he did not feature in the playing XI as India lost to New Zealand by eight wickets in Southampton.
While his selection in the playing XI for the upcoming clash will depend upon the conditions at the Oval, Shardul Thakur is honored to be part of such a marquee event.
"I feel that ICC event finals especially, you don’t get to play them everywhere each and every year, so it’s, for a few players or somebody like me, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. All that I want is to make it count," Shardul said to ICC.
"It’s always a special moment when you’re representing your country – especially India, when there’s a billion people out there who dream of playing for the nation and only the best 15 have been chosen to represent the country," he added. "Especially being involved in this Final, from 7 June onwards in England for the World Test Championship, it feels really special, I’m honoured."
Shardul Thakur has been impressive in his brief career of eight Tests, picking up 27 wickets at an average of 24.44. This includes his career-best bowling figures of 7/61 against South Africa in the second Test at Johanessburg in January 2022.
"It’s always good to remember your previous performances on a particular ground" - Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur also reflected on his heroic performance at the Oval during India's tour of England in 2021/22. He scored twin half-centuries and picked up three wickets, leading India to a crushing 157-run victory.
The 31-year-old came in with the team in dire straits at 177/6 and smashed a brilliant 57 off 36 deliveries to take India to a respectable 191 on a bowler-friendly surface.
Shardul followed his first innings heroics with 60 of 72 balls in the second innings to help set England a daunting target of 368. Speaking about the performance ahead of the WTC final to be played at the same venue, Shardul said:
"It’s always good to remember your previous performances on a particular ground, but every game is a fresh start. It’s different opponents this time around, but yeah it’s always good to take motivation from what you’ve done in the past on a particular ground."
Shardul also spoke about the overhead conditions being the crucial factor in England over the toss.
"I think England is challenging because the weather here is a bit funny," Shardul said. "When the sun’s out it is good for batting, when it’s overcast it’s good for bowling, so the toss hardly matters, it’s all about the cloud cover."
"Obviously, the pitch also plays an important role, but we’ve seen in the past that whenever there’s cloud cover the ball suddenly starts swinging and you can’t really predict how much the ball is going to move, so that’s one of the biggest challenges that a batter faces," he concluded.
Despite playing in only three of the five Tests in the previous tour to England, Shardul Thakur impressed with both bat and ball, scoring 122 runs at an average of 24.40 and picking up eight wickets.
Shardul tormented the Aussies in his only Test against them, scoring a crucial 67 in the first innings. He also picked up seven wickets to help India win the famous Brisbane Test in January 2021.