Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan has urged fans and critics not to burden Shardul Thakur with the pressure of expectations. Pathan, who himself was dubbed by many as the next ‘Kapil Dev’, advised Indian cricket to handle Thakur in a smart manner.
Thakur has made an impressive start to his international career. In the Oval Test, he scored two vital fifties and also got the wickets of Joe Root and Rory Burns on the final day.
In an interaction with TOI, Pathan, explained that it is important to allow Thakur to settle into a defined role in the team. He said:
“We’ve to be smart enough to manage him nicely. By that, I mean that we don't put added pressure on him by promoting him from No 8 to No 7. Right now, he’s shown signs of being a good, handy lower-order batsman. He’s a very, very good No. 8 batsman at the highest level."
"In modern-day cricket, it’s not just about No. 7...You need a guy who bats well, a match-winner at No. 8 as well. With a guy like Shardul at that slot, you may not need a top-quality allrounder at No 7. Let him settle in this position, and get better, and then put extra pressure on him. Don’t put high expectations on him, when he may not be yet ready to bat at No. 7. You’ve to be cautious about it. As of now, let things remain as they are and give him more matches at no.8. Let him grow as a cricketer.”
Pathan described Thakur as a very good cricketer, who contributes regularly for his team. But he cautioned that it's too early to come to a conclusion regarding Thakur being the all-rounder that India needs. He explained:
“There’s a lot to like about him — his bowling action, work ethics. He tries to give it all whenever he plays. He has contributed outstandingly in England so far… However, don’t jump the gun in calling him an all-rounder or not calling him one. Let’s be patient with him. Just give him some time and space. Let him be a contributor for some time, and we can call him (an all-rounder) when the time comes. Don’t hurry. He’s shown potential. He can add things to his game, but with proper timing and planning.”
Thakur has so far featured in four Tests, 15 ODIs and 22 T20Is for India.
Shardul Thakur’s not just an IPL product: Irfan Pathan
Pathan, who played 29 Tests and 120 ODIs for India as an all-rounder, is impressed with Thakur’s fitness. He also pointed out that the 29-year-old is a proven domestic cricketer and not just a product of the IPL. Pathan concluded:
“He’s a fit cricketer, who’s done well for Mumbai in first-class cricket. Whenever he’s played for India, he’s tried to contribute as much as he can. That’s the kind of a cricketer you want in your team. He might go for some runs, he can blow hot and cold in bowling, which can happen since he’s an aggressive pace bowler who tries to take wickets. He has that mindset. I like him. He’s got heaps of experience in first-class cricket before playing for India. It’s not that he’s just an IPL product.”
Having made his first-class debut in 2012, Thakur has featured in 66 matches. He has 221 wickets to his name apart from 1444 runs.