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SA vs IND, Centurion: Shardul Thakur, the fast bowling all-rounder's failure spelt trouble for India

South Africa vs India, Centurion Test: Shardul Thakur, the fast bowling all-rounder's failure spelt trouble for India.


Shardul Thakur the pace bowling all-rounder's poor form hurting India on SENA tour? | Walking Wicket (Photo: ©X/Twitter)
Shardul Thakur took 1/101 in Centurion Test (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

It would be right to say that India went with just 2 medium-pacers in the Centurion Test against South Africa which India lost by an innings and 32 runs. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were the frontline pacers. In contrast, Prasidh Krishna, who made his debut in the match, and all-rounder Shardul Thakur were taken to task and failed to make an impression, conceding over 4.5 runs per over, while taking a wicket each. 


Krishna’s performance would not attract critics as he was playing his first Test. But Thakur, who has played all his 11 Tests except one away from India, has highlighted India’s bared cupboards of red-ball all-rounders, which has affected the team’s balance.


First, let’s take a look at Thakur’s performance and the reason for India’s overdependence on him.


Test

Wickets

Average

BBI

Runs

Average

50s/100s

Away

1

0

-

-

4

-

-/-

Home

9

29

26.44

7/61

276

18.40

3/0

Neutral

1

2

52.00

2/104

51

25.50

1/0

Thakur played his second Test in Brisbane against Australia in 2021 after a gap of 3 years since making his Test debut. He did well in the match taking 7 wickets and scoring a vital fifty to help India win the series Down Under. 


Since his resurgence in Test cricket, Thakur has repeatedly got chances as an all-rounder in away Tests for India. His breakthrough performance came in the Johannesburg Test against South Africa in January 2022 where he took 7/61, but in a losing cause. This performance gave India hope that their search for a bowling all-rounder had ended with Thakur. However, the all-rounder has flattered to deceive since. He has taken 8 wickets in 9 innings since in helpful pace bowling conditions of South Africa and England.



Thakur conceded over 100 runs in 19 overs

In the recently concluded Johannesburg Test against South Africa, his bowling was exposed by the South Africa batting line-up as his speed of around 130 km/hr was easy fodder to score runs at a brisk pace. He conceded 101 runs in 19 overs at an economy of 5.31. Whatever pressure India’s pace duo of Bumrah-Siraj put on the Proteas batters was easily nullified by Thakur’s helpful and easy-to-bat pace bowling. 


Besides, after showing initial batting promise, Thakur’s bat has been inconsistent and the so-called depth in the batting department has been blown away. In the last 10 innings, Thakur has scored 141 in 12 innings at an average of 11.75 with one fifty.  


Despite the inconsistent show from Thakur, India have time and again opted for him in hopes of adding depth. With all-rounder Hardik Pandya only concentrating on shorter formats due to his fitness issues, Thakur has been given repeated chances to come good in the longer version of the game as India are lacking quality bowling all-rounders to play at the Test level. But time is now running out for both India and Thakur.


India must go back to domestic cricket to unearth some quality bowling all-rounders for red-ball cricket and create reserves for this position. India may not look beyond IPL 2024 to find some raw talent who could be groomed to take up the position of a bowling all-rounder in this format. Remember Jasprit Bumrah started his career for Mumbai Indians in IPL before making it into the India team and then becoming one of the best bowlers in all formats of the game.


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