Team India all-rounder Shardul Thakur chipped in with a complete performance in the third ODI against New Zealand on Tuesday, January 24, to help India claim a 90-run win and a 3-0 series whitewash as well. He scored a valuable 25-run cameo with the bat and shook the Kiwi middle order with the ball.
The turning point in New Zealand's run chase came during the midway mark of the innings. The visitors were well in the game after scoring 184 runs, leaving them with a little over 200 runs to chase with eight wickets in hand.
The Mumbai-born player, who conceded 30 runs off three overs in his first spell, was brought back into the attack. The all-rounder lived up to his reputation as a partnership breaker by striking twice in the over, which included the key wicket of Tom Latham.
Shardul Thakur caught the stand-in skipper off-guard with a slower delivery upfront. The slower full-toss was chipped straight to mid-off, where Hardik Pandya claimed a regulation catch to turn the tide in Team India's favor.
Speaking about the ploy between himself, Virat Kohli, Hardik, and skipper Rohit Sharma, Thakur said in a video released by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI):
To be honest, Tom Latham's wicket came as a surprise. Yes, we expected it, that something like that will happen. Virat walked up to me and said 'shall we try the slower ball?' Then Hardik was standing at mid-off and said 'are you confident to bowl it?' And I said 'Yes, I was confident'. Rohit asked me what is the plan and I said the plan is to bowl a slower one and surprise him first-up because he might be expecting a short ball or something."
"He then said 'Go for it'. All of us were on the same page and I went with the slower ball and he was surprised with that kind of a delivery. We were able to get his wicket. Unfortunately, I missed the hattrick on the next ball."
Thakur attempted to claim a hat trick but was met with a solid defense by Glenn Phillips. The all-rounder struck once again in his next over to get his third wicket, which went on to derail the visitors' run chase completely.
"Every time Rohit stepped up to me, the message was simple" - Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur played a key role as the second seamer, with both Mohammad Shami and Mohammed Siraj being rested for the dead rubber. His innate ability to pick up wickets at any given stage of the contest once again came to the fore. He also made a strong case for the No. 8 position by providing batting depth and
Noting the talk between him and skipper Rohit Sharma over the course of the second innings, Thakur said:
"Everytime Rohit stepped up to me, the message was simple, 'Let them hit cross-batted shots, they will score runs, the pitch was pretty flat, the ground is small as well, so they will hit you for runs, and that's okay because it's cricket and that is bound to happen, but that is how you will get wickets as well."
Speaking about his player of the match award for his all-round performance, he said:
"I am happy about the award, but it is my job for the team. Whenever I am asked to bat or whenever I am asked to bowl, I have to deliver for the team. So, whenever I step onto the field, everything that goes on my mind is how can I make an impact, which will help the team to win the game."
Following the 3-0 triumph in the series, India are now the top-ranked ODI side in the world.
Should the all-rounder be genuinely considered a prospect at No. 8 in the ODI playing XI? Let us know what you think.
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