India vs New Zealand: Magician’ Shardul turns match India’s way with two quick wickets

Shardul Thakur is often called a ‘Magician’. When wickets aren’t falling, or a partnership needs to be broken, skipper Rohit Sharma just throws the ball to Thakur. If the team needs some runs, Thakur will deliver with the bat too. Social media has termed him ‘Lord Shardul’ as the Mumbai player has delivered in both departments.

Thakur was dropped from the home series against Sri Lanka but the selectors picked him for the three ODIs against New Zealand. His performance prompted the panel to add him as the 21st member of the core group of probables to be rotated ahead of the 50-over World Cup to be played at home.

Sharma said Thakur has a knack of taking wickets at crucial times. New Zealand were sailing at one stage in the pursuit of 386 on Tuesday. At one stage, they were 184/2 in 25 overs with Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell looking in a good position for a charge.

It was then that Sharma threw the ball to Thakur, who got Mitchell caught behind and welcomed Kiwi captain Tom Latham with a knuckleball, a low full toss which he wasn’t expecting. Latham played straight but found Hardik Pandya taking a low catch at mid-off. The Kiwis were 184/4 and later Thakur got Glenn Phillips too with a shorter one.

Sharma praised Thakur for his ability to get wickets at crucial times.

“He has got the knack of taking wickets at crucial times for us. We have seen it not just in ODI cricket but also in Test cricket. There are so many instances that I remember, there is a partnership building from the opposition and he came in and got us through. He is very critical to us, we know where we stand as a team, what he brings to us is very critical,” Sharma said post India’s 3-0 series win.

Sharma and Thakur had the same coach, played for the same school and later Mumbai. The skipper said Thakur is very smart and understands what needs to be done. “In this format, you need to use your skill and Shardul definitely has some skills. He has a good knuckleball, and bowled it to Tom Latham today. That was nicely
planned in the middle by a few players. I was not included in that. It was Virat (Kohli), Hardik (Pandya) and Shardul, so it was a good plan,” he revealed.

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