Training under Morkel at LSG the secret behind Vidarbha pacer Yash Thakur’s recent surge

While his three wickets for 51 runs were invaluable in Vidarbha restricting MP’s lead to 82 runs in the Ranji Trophy semifinal, it was his boldness, even if a footnote in the grander scheme of things, that truly underlined Thakur’s flair.

Published : Mar 04, 2024 10:03 IST , Nagpur - 4 MINS READ

Yash Thakur in action.
Yash Thakur in action. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B/The Hindu

Yash Thakur in action. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B/The Hindu

The most plain-sighted hint in Yash Thakur’s disposition as he sets himself up at the top of his run-up are his raised collars. They do not drop even when he fields at deep fine leg. Yet if those fail to put the point across, the 25-year-old pacer lets his fist-pump celebrations, send-offs, and staredowns give it away.

“I think aggression is my strength. I believe it is necessary in the game. That is what drives me to give my best. We got just 170 in the first innings, [and] to come back from there, we needed to be aggressive. Otherwise, I don’t think we would have managed to, on this wicket,” said Thakur after the second day’s play during Vidarbha’s semifinal against Madhya Pradesh (MP).

While his three wickets for 51 runs were invaluable in Vidarbha restricting MP’s lead to 82 runs on Sunday, it was his boldness, even if a footnote in the grander scheme of things, that truly underlined Thakur’s flair.

With Himanshu Mantri and Sagar Solanki beginning to wrest control back after MP’s collapse earlier in the morning, Thakur took the opportunity to remind who was in charge, grabbing the ball tapped back at him by Solanki and flinging it back at the stumps.

In the first session, Thakur unleashed a ‘celebrappeal’ after trapping Harsh Gawali leg before, topping it off with a fist pump in the path of the departing batter. The send-off was similar for Venkatesh Iyer three overs later. “My nature is such. It would have been the same had we scored 300 in the first innings. It keeps me pumped,” said Thakur. 

The highlight, hands down, came in the second session after Thakur darted from long on to the non-striker’s end to catch Solanki inches outside the crease. As soon as the red light confirmed the third umpire’s verdict, Thakur turned to the MP dugout and helped himself to three fist-pumps.

“I was double-minded. Had I thrown and missed, that would have been a reprieve. So I thought, why not go all the way? I thought about the Jonty diving run out as well, but the distance was a little too much, and then it was purely instincts taking over,” said Thakur.

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Though his genial disposition off the field cut a starkly distinct picture from his persona in the middle, Thakur said the switch is on purpose.

“I think Morne Morkel convinced me. He was aggressive when he played. He told me you have it inbuilt, so you should capitalise on it. He said that will keep helping me develop and get the desired results,” said Thakur, who worked with Morkel with the Lucknow Super Giants in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.

Branded as a death-overs specialist after his exploits in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last season, Lucknow put faith in Thakur when Jaydev Unadkat’s injury opened a spot in the eleven. The Vidarbha quick, who was roped in for ₹45 lakhs, returned 13 wickets in nine games, including a four-wicket haul against the Punjab Kings, which prompted the side to retain him for the upcoming season.

“I got to share the dressing room with the player that I grew up watching, Gautam Gambhir. I learned so much from him. He taught me to be street-smart and tilt the match in the team’s favour. That has helped me the most, which I can come back and use in domestic cricket. I’m lucky to have played that level,” said Thakur.

This season, Thakur moved on from his tag of a limited overs bowler, offering company to fellow quicks Umesh Yadav and Aditya Thakare in the Ranji Trophy with his 18 wickets from 11 innings. While his senior partners have been more prolific, Thakur had an idea of what would improve his yield for the team.

“I think I can mix up the lengths well. I can switch between back-of-a-length and slightly fuller ones. I try to not let the batters settle to one pace or one length. But I would like to be more consistent with this,” said Thakur.

Before he moves on to the IPL bandwagon later this month, Thakur wants to go all in with Vidarbha, a side back in the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy after five years. As for the equation against MP, Thakur fancies Vidarbha’s chances to make the final. 

“It was our day. We managed to come back. We have three more days to fight back which is enough. That is the best part about these five-day games. We have that chance, and we have to grab it,” said Thakur.

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