Former Indian selector Jatin Paranjape has backed Shardul Thakur as the third seamer for the SCG Test given he can swing the ball and is a workhouse. After a decent limited-overs return, Shardul was added to India's Test squad as Mohammed Shami's replacement after he was ruled out of the series.
Given India's rich fast bowling resources in Tests which has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, there is hardly room for youngsters to knock at the doors of selection. But, in an unfortunate turn of events, India lost three of their pace quartet, which first meant a debut for Mohammed Siraj in the MCG Test and now has opened doors for either of Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur or T Natarajan for a place in the Test side.
Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur, who's the most experienced of the trio, having played 62 First-class games for his 206 wickets at an average of 28.55, has been backed by Jatin Paranjape to play the third Test between India and Australia. Shardul is someone who can take the ball away from right-handers and also hit the deck hard. The former Indian selector feels he's a swing bowler and can be a good addition to the side given the value he brings to the plate.
"Our fast bowlers have done very well, but none of them has swung the ball till now. Shardul can swing the ball, and because he can do that, I expect that he will be given the new ball. Knowing him, he will keep coming back with the ball at the Aussies. He's a ghoda (workhorse), who has the stamina to keep bowling fast the whole day. Moreover, he can bat too," Paranjape said, reported TOI.
He highlighted 'tenacity and grind,' two things that have defined Thakur the cricketer besides applauding his 'fighting attitude' which is needed in Australia.
"I know Shardul for a number of years. In Mumbai, he has played his entire cricket after travelling all the way from Palghar. When I used to play for Bombay (Mumbai), I remember that my Mumbai teammates Rajesh Sutar and Nilesh Kulkarni used to come from (far-flung) areas like Palghar and Dombivali. These guys have undergone a tough rigour, travelling for six hours on a daily basis. This 'slog' makes these guys mentally very tough. This is where they get their tenacity. After going through that kind of a grind just to get to play cricket, they just don't want to give up," said the 48-year-old.
"When you play international cricket, and particularly when you play Australia - tenacity and fighting spirit, the two qualities he possesses in abundance - trump over talent. He will keep coming at you with the ball and with the bat. He fits into the culture of this team, built by captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri. Like this team, he doesn't give up till the end," he asserts. "He's a sort of a 'bonus' to the team. He will do something or the other for you."
A source from team management revealed that Shardul will form a great pairing with Bumrah and Siraj and can come good against England at home too given he's good with the SG ball.
"Shardul has the experience of four-day cricket, having taken many wickets in domestic cricket. He will form a good combo with Bumrah and (Mohammed) Siraj. If we invest in him in this series, we will reap the rewards in the home series against England, because he will be an even better bowler with the SG ball. To add to his utility, he can chip in with the bat too, which helps a lot when you're playing five bowlers," a source in the Indian team management told TOI.
India takes on Australia in the third Test at the SCG from Jan.7. Right now, the series is levelled at 1-1.