Former India all-rounder turned commentator Irfan Pathan has pleaded fans and critics not to burden Shardul Thakur with the pressure of expectations. Pathan, who himself was dubbed by many as the next ‘Kapil Dev’, advised Indian cricket to handle Thakur in a smarter way.
Thakur has made an impressive start to his international career. In the Oval Test, he scored two crucial fifties and also got the wickets of Joe Root and Rory Burns on the final day. His partnership breaking wicket too was one of the most pivotal moments in India’s victory.
During an interaction with Times of India(TOI), Pathan explained that it is important to allow Thakur to settle into a specific role in the team. He explained,
“We’ve to be smart enough to manage him nicely. By that, I mean that we don’t put added pressure on him by promoting him from No 8 to No 7. Right now, he’s shown signs of being a good, handy lower-order batsman. He’s a very, very good No. 8 batsman at the highest level.”
Furthermore, Pathan said, “In modern-day cricket, it’s not just about No. 7…You need a guy who bats well, a match-winner at No. 8 as well. With a guy like Shardul at that slot, you may not need a top-quality allrounder at No 7. Let him settle in this position, and get better, and then put extra pressure on him. Don’t put high expectations on him, when he may not be yet ready to bat at No. 7. You’ve to be cautious about it. As of now, let things remain as they are and give him more matches at no.8. Let him grow as a cricketer.”
Pathan opined that Thakur is an excellent cricketer who contributes regularly to his team. However, he warned that it is too early to come to a conclusion that Thakur is the all-rounder India needs. He elaborated this point, “There’s a lot to like about him — his bowling action, work ethics. He tries to give it all whenever he plays. He has contributed outstandingly in England so far… However, don’t jump the gun in calling him an all-rounder or not calling him one. Let’s be patient with him. Just give him some time and space. Let him be a contributor for some time, and we can call him (an all-rounder) when the time comes. Don’t hurry. He’s shown potential. He can add things to his game, but with proper timing and planning.”
Thakur has so far played in four Tests, 15 ODIs, and 22 T20Is for India. He has also been a key player for his IPL franchise CSK. Playing under Dhoni’s captaincy, we have seen Shardul Thakur grow as a cricketer. However, Hardik Pandya has always been the first choice for the all-rounder’s spot in the team across all formats. Since he is suffering from a lower back injury, Thakur got the opportunity and he has grabbed it with both hands.