Shardul Thakur is not called ‘Lord’ for nothing. He somehow has the ability to make things happen when it is least expected. Want proof? Remember his partnership with Washington Sundar at The Gabba when India were down and out? Or his blistering 51 in the first innings followed by 60 in the second at The Oval against England last year? How about the historic seven-wicket haul in Johannesburg against South Africa? On all those occasions, India were in dire straits and Shardul did something or the other either with the bat or with the ball to not only bring India back in the match but also win it.
Come the World Test Championship final against Australia, he has put his hand up again. To say that he has done enough to put India in a winning position would be exaggerating stuff to a great deal but what his rearguard 51-run knock on Day 3 has done is that it has made sure India stay in the game after being run over in the first two days.
Shardul Thakur equals Bradman and Border’s feat at The Oval
And that’s not all, in the process of registering his fourth Test half-century, Shardul Thakur also equalled a feat held jointly held previously by Don Bradman and Allan Border. Let that sink in.
This was the third consecutive time that Shardul crossed the fifty-run mark at The Oval – which is the joint-most alongside Bradman and Border among overseas batters.
Shardul has a special love affair with this venue. In the only two Tests that he has played here, he has registered three half-centuries and picked up five wickets with an innings still left. He averages 56 with the bat here.
The Shardul Thakur and Ajinkya Rahane partnership
He came into bat when India were in all sorts of trouble at 152 for six. They had just lost their overnight batter KS Bharat on the third ball of the day. They were still 118 runs away from avoiding the follow-on. By the time Shardul finished, India had not only avoided the follow-on but also came very close to breaching the 300-run mark.
The right-handed batter, who has now developed a reputation for being a crisis man with the bat, stitched a 109-run stand for the seventh wicket with comeback man Ajinkya Rahane (89). This is India’s highest partnership in the WTC finals.
But it was not a smooth beginning for Shardul. He was peppered by Australia captain Pat Cummins. The lanky pacer got the ball to misbehave from the good length and hit Shardul twice in the same over. The burst forced the Indian all-rounder to use arm guards on both hands. He was dropped in the slip cordon by Cameron Green very early in his innings. But he kept his calm and slowly started to bat well.
He hit six fours in his 109-ball stay in the middle and was finally dismissed when he went for an expansive drive off Green in the post-lunch session.
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