Thakur hopes to adapt better in South Africa

Ever since Shardul Thakur recovered from an ankle injury he developed early in 2017, he has been dealing with the challenges of being on the fringes of the Indian team.

Mumbai bowler Shardul Thakur hopes to start the new year by creating an impact in the limited-overs series in South Africa.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

 

He may not be tall like a majority of genuine fast bowlers. Still, Shardul Thakur is one of the few express fast bowlers in India. Though he earned the India cap — during the ODI series in Sri Lanka last year — he refers to the year gone by as a “mixed bag”.

The Mumbai bowler hopes to start the new year by creating an impact in the limited-overs series in South Africa.

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“I hope I can contribute to the team's cause whenever I get an opportunity,” Thakur, the 26-year-old, told Sportstar after Mumbai's West Zone Twenty20 campaign in Rajkot last week. Just when he was thinking of improving his rhythm during the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Kolkata before flying to South Africa along with the one-day specialists, Thakur was asked to join the Test squad as a back-up bowler for the third Test.

For more than six months now, ever since he recovered from an ankle injury he developed early in 2017, Thakur has been dealing with the challenges of being on the fringes of the Indian team. It has resulted in him being deprived of game-time and hopping between the Indian team and the domestic arena. How does he deal with it?

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“Mentally it was quite challenging because you are not sure about your place. Sometimes you are in the team but you don't know whether you are playing a game for India. Sometimes you are on the verge of playing for India but you're not getting a game. Then again going back to domestic cricket,” Thakur said.

“Sometimes there's even a gap of a month since you have played a game. It's not easy to go back to domestic and perform right away. Take a bit of time to get the match-rhythm back. On those parameters, it was difficult to manage myself this year.”

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But he seems to have fared well, despite injuring his shoulder during Mumbai's last Ranji league game against Tripura while attempting a catch. The speedster was forced to withdraw from Mumbai's Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Karnataka, which pulled curtains on his domestic red-ball season. But Thakur got enough time to get into the best frame of mind to prepare for the challenges in the rainbow nation.

The Indian team, having suffered disappointing defeats in the first two Tests, may not be in a good state of mind, but Thakur has joined the squad with a positive mindset. Rather than thinking about the challenges on offer, Thakur is hoping to exploit the pace-friendly conditions, even with the white-ball.

“If you see, the home team will always have an advantage, no matter what. They have played in those conditions, they are aware of the pitch. The challenge for us is to adapt and express us to the fullest,” he said. “Skill-wise I think everyone has hell lot of skills. But at the end of the day, it's about how confidently you go out there and execute your skills in a match. I hope we can deliver consistently.”