Former India coach Ravi Shastri has scrutinised Shardul Thakur for his lacklustre bowling in India’s innings defeat to South Africa at the Centurion Test. Shardul, the fourth Indian pace-bowling option had a forgettable game, finishing with 1/101 at an economy rate of 5.3, making him the most expensive Indian bowler among all five. Clearly, the Indian think tank’s decision to add him to bolster the batting didn’t pay off either with Shardul’s scores of 24 and 2. While India’s batting capitulation is what made most headlines – leading to an innings defeat – that their bowling appeared toothless and without bite paints a sorry picture.
Since Johannesburg 2022, where he took 7/61, Shardul has taken just 7 wickets in 7 Tests, his downward curve evident. Shastri felt what India lacked was experience, which despite Shardul’s experience wasn’t enough – despite dismissing Dean Elgar, he was average overall. Prasidh Krishna was making his Test debut and with Mohammed Shami out injured, the bowling was always going to be a worry for the Indians.
“India lacked experience in their bowling attack. They’ve got two of them who are reasonable experienced – Bumrah and Siraj – but they missed Shami big time. Shardul Thakur is not a baby, but he is the 4th seamer. You need a proper third seamer and that makes a massive difference overseas,” Shastri said after South Africa’s innings ended on 408/9 with a lead of 163 runs.
Go play Ranji Trophy, Shastri tells Arshdeep
So what are the options? Mukesh Kumar is still new and India have long moved on from Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav – the once formidable force as part of the Indian pack of five. Mark Nicholas, who was discussion India’s abject bowling along with Shastri mentioned a very interesting name – Arshdeep Singh – but before everyone could get carried away, the ex-coach raised a very valid point. Sure enough, Arshdeep set the South Africa ODIs with a five-wicket-haul in Johannesburg, followed by 4/30 in Paarl, and brings a left-arm variety too, but is he ready for the gruelling format of Test cricket? Shastri doesn’t think so just yet but made a plea to Arshdeep, which the youngster could do following.
“The thing is you want to see his First-Class record. Can he bowl long spells? Has he played a lot of Ranji Trophy cricket? I would in fact go and make him play a lot of it, Ranji and First-Class cricket and keep him in the mix because if someone can swing it like he did with the white ball in South Africa, he could be a handy customer,” Shastri added on.