The competition for the pacer’s slot in the Indian team gets stiffer after every IPL season. So some proficiency with the bat could come in handy. Shardul Thakur seems to be well aware of that.
The man who became part of cricketing folklore with an exceptional half-century in India’s stunning victory in the Brisbane Test early last year showed yet again his utility in the lower middle-order in the first ODI against South Africa at Lucknow. He had also claimed two wickets and emerged the most economical bowler among the Indians.
“I have been focusing on my batting for quite a long time,” said Shardul on Saturday ahead of the second ODI. “If those who bat at No. 7, 8 or even 9 add a few runs to the team’s total, it is great.”
Shardul said successful international teams batted deep. “Australia has Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc… even England’s batting line-up is deep,” he said. “So why not the Indian team? We can have a deeper batting line-up and that can make the difference to a game. Some 20 runs can be crucial, especially in the white-ball format.”
Indian cricket has depth: Maharaj
Like Shardul, South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj had a good game at Lucknow. The left-arm spinner is impressed by the depth in Indian cricket.
“I wouldn’t call this a second-string Indian side. I think India is blessed with so much talent that it could field four (or) five international sides,” Maharaj said. “A lot of the Indian players (here) have IPL and international experience. Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson are world-class performers.”
He said the idea of fielding a second-string side, like India in the current ODI series, was something that could be looked at in the future from the player-management point of view given the amount of cricket being played nowadays. “That is, of course, left to the coaching and medical staff,” he said.