MUMBAI:For a bowler like Shardul Thakur, who has done well in domestic cricket, and is on the fringes of the national team, every outing is a chance to impress the selectors. And the pacer may have done just that with his four-wicket haul, including the scalps of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, for the Board President’s XI against South Africa.
Thakur, however, didn’t seem to have made an impression on AB de Villiers.
It was a restrained innings, by his standards. The South African batsman scored 112 off 131 balls and hit 18 fours but not a single six. De Villiers’ first scoring shot off Thakur was a cut through the covers. Thakur had a word about it with De Villiers about it later on during the drinks break.
“I asked him about that shot,” he told the media after the game. “I spoke to him because I didn’t think it was a bad ball, but he had just managed to come up with a good shot.”
And what did De Villiers say? “He said he didn’t think it was a good ball,” Thakur dead panned.
Ouch! But then that’s what one would expect from the hottest batsman in the world at the moment. And it will prove an invaluable lesson for Thakur, whose exploits have so far been restricted to the domestic scene. It will help him re-evaluate not just the kind of bowling that hurts the best in the business but also where his game stands in comparison to the international standards.
He might not quite be there yet, but the Mumbai bowler gave a good account of himself against the touring South Africans. He used the early moisture in the pitch at the Brabourne stadium well to send Amla, who was hoping for some batting practice in the two-day game, and Du Plessis back.
Having scalped the wickets of opener Stiaan van Zyl and Simon Harmer on Friday evening, Thakur almost single-handedly dismantled the South African top order. That went a long way in the BP XI restricting the visitors to 302 and not reducing the game to batting practice for the South Africans. Apart from De Villiers, South Africa’s wicketkeeper Dane Vilas was the only one to make a meaningful contribution.
The pressure will be on Vilas as he takes over the gloves from Quinton de Kock, who had very successful outings in India in the T20 as well as the ODIs, for the Tests. Vilas, however, didn’t let it show as he calmly batted alongside De Villiers for his 54. KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom are part of the Indian Test squad and looking to cement their place in the side, batted out the rest of the overs. Rahul followed up his first innings half-century with an unbeaten 43 while Pujara scored 49 not out.
Board President’s XI 296 & 92/0 (C Pujara 49 n.o, KL Rahul 43 n.o) drew with South Africans 302 (De Villiers 112, D Vilas 54, S Thakur 4-70).
4 The century in Mumbai on Saturday against Board President’s XI is AB de Villiers’ fourth of the tour.
3 This is his third straight century of the tour, the previous innings being the 112 at Chennai in 4th ODI and 119 at Mumbai in 5th ODI.
577 De Villiers has now scored 577 runs since the start of the tour. His scores so far (including warm-up matches): 37, 51, 19, 104*, 19, 4, 112, 119, 112.
62.68 De Villiers’ average in India across formats (Tests+ ODIs+T20Is).
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