India pacer Shardul Thakur stunned everyone with his 115-ball 67 against Australia at the iconic Gabba in January this. Not only did he hit a magnificent cover drive off Mitchell Starc, the 29-year-old partnered with Washington Sundar for 123 runs. The stand pulled India from 186 for 6 to 336 all-out, just 33 shorts of Australia’s 1st innings total.
With the ball, Shardul Thakur dimissed Marcus Harris, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins in the first innings. In the 2nd innings he got rid of Cameron Green, Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon as India sealed a memorable 2-1 series win Down Under.
Shardul Thakur’s impact with the bat and ball has made many including India bowling coach Bharat Arun consider him as a seam-bowling all-rounder option for India.
Can Thakur fulfill Hardik Pandya’s role in his absence during the England tour?
Arun, in a conversation with PTI, said that while the selectors will have the last word on finding the next set of options.
“It is more of a selectors’ job to find them and then we can develop those all-rounders. Shardul has proved he can be an all rounder. What he did in Australia was fabulous,” Arun said during the interaction facilitated by Ironwood Education Company.
Pandya last played Test cricket for India in 2018, during the tour of England. He has been battling a back injury since 2018 and recently, during the IPL, also picked up a shoulder niggle. Arun reckoned that finding someone as good as Pandya would be a very tough job.
“I wish you could just wish and develop bowlers like that. Hardik is an outstanding talent, but unfortunately, he had to undergo a back operation and then it’s not very easy to come back after that,” he said.
“He bowled against England, I thought he did a really good job. But, to sustain that we need to manage him well and build on his strength,” he added. The two-Test old Thakur was mighty impressive in the only longest format game he played in the away series against Australia this year, picking up seven wickets and a half century to boot in Brisbane.
“So ideally, yes (we need to develop seam bowling all-rounder), there must be a few (in domestic cricket) because we are always on the circuit with the Indian team, we have not had an opportunity to look at the domestic all-rounders,” he added.
Further, Arun said all six fast bowlers will be rotated during the tour as the team manages its players’ workload in a “big” way. India play six Tests in England, starting with the World Test Championship final against New Zealand from June 18 in Southampton.
England is the only top side at the moment which has a clear-cut rotation policy in place to deal with bubble fatigue in amid the COVID-19 pandemic. An example of it was on display during the 4-match Test series against India earlier this year.
“Even we have a policy in place at the moment. We have rested players in between matches, and also some top players for a series and things like that. It is under place, even for us,” Arun said.
“That is going to be the future because the volume of cricket that is being played, and also with all the current rules which are going to exist for some time. I think it is extremely important that the players are fresh mentally, physically, so workload management is going to be big in the future.”
India have six pacers in the squad — Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Thakur, and Mohammad Siraj.
“If you look at them (all six), you could put any three or four out of them on the park. They are good enough to do the job for us. So that is a very, very healthy trend for Indian cricket,” said Arun. “And so the five Test matches that we’re going to play after the World Test Championship, there’s a definite cause of necessity for us to rotate all the bowlers so that they stay fresh,” he explained.