Former Australian spinner Brad Hogg believes that Shardul Thakur has captured the all-rounder spot in India’s playing XI in Tests, especially in overseas games. He noted that the team will not miss the services of Hardik Pandya, who has been out of the Test squad for a substantial period of time now.
Hardik Pandya’s last appearance in Test cricket was during the 2018 tour of England. Ever since he has been battling a lower-back injury which has been an obstacle for him to bowl long spells in particular.
Shardul Thakur has performed in almost all of his Test match appearances so far. Hogg feels Thakur provides more than Pandya with the ball for India in terms of movement and consistency in line and length.In a video on his YouTube channel, the former KKR spinner said,
“For me, I think Hardik won’t be missed. Thakur has really taken this opportunity here at the Test level. He moves the ball both ways but he’s not gonna be out there as your genuine wicket-taker, he is there as the all-rounder option. I think he offers more with the ball than Hardik Pandya with that movement in the air but also getting it in the right areas a lot more often than not.”
Hardik Pandya was not selected for the ongoing tour of England. Instead, he was part of a contingent that toured Sri Lanka in a limited-overs series led by Shikhar Dhawan as captain and coached by Rahul Dravid.
Hogg feels that Shardul Thakur is undroppable from the team at the moment. He believes the only time Thakur might not feature in the playing XI would be when conditions favor spinners. In that case, Hogg feels Ravichandran Ashwin will make his way back into the team replacing Thakur.
“But the way he (Thakur) has handled the bat in pressure situations, you cannot drop Thakur from that all-rounder position. The only reason he will be removed from that position is swapping him with Ashwin when the conditions are more conducive to spin bowling. Shardul has offered a lot more depth in Indian cricket in that all-rounder spot,” Hogg concluded.
Shardul Thakur has scored three Test fifties and has also developed a knack for breaking long partnerships and delivering crucial wickets with the ball. He was in the run for the Player of the Match award in the fourth Test, but Rohit Sharma’s second innings century overshadowed his efforts.