Shardul Thakur was the leading wicket-taker in the series, with eight wickets in five matches at an average of 21. Although his economy rate was high at 9.69, he finished with an excellent strike rate of 13.
According to Zaheer, even as the likes of Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer made a significant impression in the series, Shardul Thakur went about his task quietly but did the job for the team.
Zaheer said in a video on Cricbuzz:
"Shardul Thakur, if you've noticed… there are so many big names in this Indian cricket team, so much of flamboyance. In all of that, this player is doing his job silently. He's the silent hero of this series. His numbers are as good as any top player."
Apart from the number of wickets he picked up, it was the timing of Shardul Thakur’s breakthroughs that stood out. In the fourth T20I, he dismissed a dangerous-looking Ben Stokes and England captain Eoin Morgan off consecutive deliveries to shift the momentum of the game.
Again, in the final T20I, he sent back the well-set Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow in the same over. India went on to win the match and, with it, the series.
Put Shardul Thakur in any situation and he will thrive: Zaheer Khan
According to the former India pacer, Shardul Thakur has been a different player since the Australia series.
The 29-year-old scored a crucial half-century and picked up important wickets in the Gabba Test to play a memorable part in India’s historic triumph. According to Zaheer:
"Ever since the Australia series, I have seen a big change in his thinking and body language. Even if you look at him carefully in the field, his confidence is sparkling. When you are playing international cricket for long, it usually takes people time to understand their game and prolong his career, but Thakur is already at a stage where he knows what’s best for him and what he needs to avoid. Put him in any situation and he will thrive.”
Shardul Thakur is part of the Indian squad that will take on England in the three-match ODI series starting March 23 in Pune.