Aakash Chopra has acknowledged that Shardul Thakur proved him wrong with his all-round performance in the second Test between India and South Africa.
Thakur registered figures of 7/61 in South Africa's first innings to restrict the hosts' lead. He then played a blazing 28-run knock in India's second essay to help the visitors set a decent fourth-innings target for the Proteas.
During an interaction on the Star Sports show Follow the Blues, Aakash Chopra admitted that he had raised doubts about Shardul Thakur's place in India's playing XI. He said:
"Shardul Thakur has been the pick of the Indian bowlers, rather the Indian players, in the second Test match. Personally, I was one of those guys who asked questions."
The former India cricketer also shared the reason for his apprehension. Chopra explained:
"If he is not scoring runs and is not picking up wickets in any case because if you are the fourth bowler, you don't get the bowling. In fact, even when he took seven wickets, he bowled just one ball in the first 35 overs."
"So, if you are not introduced in 35 overs and you are not able to score runs, which was the case in the first two or three innings, your place in the team is in question because then you will play a fourth fast bowler."
Before his enterprising knock in India's second innings of the Johannesburg Test, Shardul Thakur had scored just 14 runs in his previous three knocks. Although he took a couple of wickets in the Boxing Day Test, he didn't look too threatening with the ball.
"Shardul Thakur is absolutely phenomenal" - Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra concluded by saying that it was Shardul Thakur who kept Team India's hopes alive with his all-round effort in the New Year's Test. He elaborated:
"But then, he just turned this Test match on its head by that inspiring spell. He took seven wickets, which is a huge achievement. After that, he scored crucial 28 runs with the bat because of which India got a lead of 239. So in my opinion, Lord Thakur is absolutely phenomenal."
Thakur had to shoulder additional responsibility in the Johannesburg Test due to Mohammed Siraj's hamstring injury. The seam-bowling all-rounder rose to the occasion and caused more difficulties for the Proteas' batters than India's frontline pacers - Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
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