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CWC 2023: Is it time for India to replace Shardul Thakur with R Ashwin

CWC 2023: Shardul Thakur the weakest link in India's bowling unit? Should India still continue with him over R Ashwin?

CWC 2023_ Shardul Thakur has only taken 2 wickets from three game in CWC 2023 _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Thakur has only taken 2 wickets from three game in CWC 2023 (Photo: ©BCCI/Twitter)

India's bowling has been at its best so far in the 2023 ODI World Cup. They have picked up 36 wickets out of a possible 40 in the last four matches, helping the team to win all the games. All the front-line bowlers have been among the wickets. However, there is a weak link in the attack – Shardul Thakur – who has not lived up to the pre-World Cup billing.


Since the 2019 World Cup final and the opening match of the 2023 ODI World Cup, Thakur has been the best Indian medium-pacer, and is second in the list of highest wicket-takers for India during this period.


Highest-wicket takers for India between 2019 and 2023 World Cup

Players

Matches

Wickets

Averages

Kuldeep Yadav

39

59

28.23

Shardul Thakur

39

57

29.71

Mohammed Siraj

29

54

23.50

Mohammed Shami

27

44

28.40

During the last year before the 2023 World Cup, Thakur was the second-best Indian medium-pacer in ODIs - after Mohammed Siraj.



Highest-wicket takers for India during the 12 months before the 2023 World Cup

Players

Matches

Wickets

Average

Mohammed Siraj

20

41

16.51

Kuldeep Yadav

21

40

17.20

Shardul Thakur

20

27

25.55

Mohammed Shami

12

19

23.73

ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023_ Ravichandran Ashwin included to India's World Cup squad _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Will India try Ashwin over Shardul? (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

During this period, he was given regular chances as India needed someone who had the knack of picking up wickets in the middle overs and could also score a few useful runs lower down the order. Thakur fitted the bill perfectly and therefore, except for the spin-friendly conditions in the Chennai match against Australia, he has played all three games for India in World Cup 2023.


However, Thakur has failed to deliver so far. He has picked up just 2 wickets in 3 games at an average of 51. He has picked up a catch as well and is yet to bat in the World Cup as India’s top order has completed the job with finesse.


In the match against Bangladesh, Thakur had to bowl more overs as Hardik Pandya was out due to injury. Although Pandya took the wicket of the struggling NO 5 batsman Towhid Hridoy, Thakur leaked runs and was not consistent enough to bowl good overs one after another. His job of picking up wickets in the middle overs has fallen on other bowlers, both pacers and spinners, in the last 3 matches he has played.


Hence, Thakur can easily be called the weakest link of the Indian bowling attack so far in the World Cup. He has failed to deliver in the manner in which he has been playing since the 2019 World Cup.


Now with Pandya injured, India have to take a call to bring in Mohammed Shami or Ravi Ashwin to replace him for the match against New Zealand. The final choice will depend on the pitch conditions, and they will also have to reconsider whether they should give another chance for Thakur to make amends.


India could also bolster their batting and bring in Suryakumar Yadav for Pandya, and hope their five bowlers, including Thakur, finish the job.


But when Pandya is back, will it be wise to drop Thakur for his no-show so far in the World Cup for Ashwin or Shami?


It is important to remember that during such a long tournament in India, pitches tend to get slower, and hence, another spinner (read Ashwin) in place of Thakur will make sense. Besides, Ashwin is consistent with his line and length and can give 10 good overs.


In comparison. Thakur could only bowl in patches so far in the World Cup. Hence, the debate is not Shami over Thakur, but it is Ashwin over Thakur as Ashwin is an experienced spinner who can bowl and take wickets even on good batting tracks - as Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav have been able to do so far. This also means that Thakur’s no-show so far in the World Cup can see him getting sidelined soon.


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