India vs England: Shardul Thakur holds up the mirror | Cricket News


Shardul Thakur not only injected a booster dose of adrenaline and chutzpah into India’s flagging batting challenge, he even had the audacity to extol the virtues of a “straight bat” after.
The irony would not have been lost on India’s batting stalwarts, who have mostly flattered to deceive on this tour and in their tentativeness have often disowned the raison d’etre of Kohli’s team: carry the fight to the opposition, whatever the cost, and be hell bent on making an impression when cornered, as the skipper pointed out after Leeds.
For the second time within a year, it has taken the ‘Palghar Express’ to remind them of this fact.
Thakur is another old-fashioned cricketing success story whose talent was fashioned in the bylanes of the great extended Indian suburbia before being chiselled by expert hands in the big city. Palghar, though, is only a three-hour drive from Mumbai by road, a distance considerably shorter than the one between Brisbane and the Oval, those twin monuments of pace bowler Thakur’s match-turning prowess with the bat.
Both are examples of how Thakur may currently be India’s man for the crisis. In a very short time since a hobbling Test debut against the West Indies in 2018, Thakur has cast his influence far and wide. It’s not for nothing that he is called ‘Beefy’ by his teammates, a nickname he admitted pleases him no end.
In Brisbane, a match more remembered for Rishabh Pant’s fourthinnings heroics, Thakur’s three wickets in Australia’s first innings preceded a 115-ball 67 and a 123-run seventh-wicket stand with Washington Sundar when India were tottering against the likes of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins. He followed that up with 4/61 in the second innings.
At the Oval, his 36-ball 57 and a 63-run eighth-wicket stand with Umesh Yadav was the surprise partnership of the innings that came completely against the run of play and gave India’s an opportunity.
Thakur’s knock was not a fluke. It was a whiff of fresh air and a splash of bravado from a batting lineup in real danger of going stale before its due date. He played straight, and for the large part proper cricketing shots.
Sure, there were the ugly hoicks too, as is to be expected, but then there was the six against Overton, the straight drive and pull off Woakes, another whiplash six off the same bowler… the list goes on. He rode his luck, as tailenders are wont to, but it was one of the more memorable counter-attacking innings of the year. That it broke a 35-year-old record set by one of the game’s all-time premier allrounders, who else but Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham, is an indication of its magnitude.
“My batting is improving,” Thakur said modestly, “The best chance for batsmen in England is to play with a straight bat. Our throwdown experts have told me so.” Asked if living up to the “allrounder” tag would now add more pressure, he said, “Team ke liye responsibility lena chahiye. Kuch na kuch run karke mujhe impact create karna hi hai (One must take responsibility for the team. Somehow or the other, anyhow, I must make an impact with the bat).”
It’s the sort of healthy desperation India need more of.


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