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Shardul Thakur eyes 2023 World Cup spot after missing the T20 WC berth

"This time, I am not selected. That's fine. There is a lot of cricket…an ODI World Cup ahead," says Shardul Thakur.

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Arijit Barua
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He has transitioned long back from a journeyman domestic cricketer, hitting the social media popularity charts as well. But Shardul Thakur is still searching for job security as an India player, something that has proved elusive.

Shardul Thakur eyes 2023 World Cup spot after missing the T20 WC berth | Sportz Point

Shardul Thakur

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The trending hashtag 'Lord Shardul' on Twitter every time he breaks important partnerships reflects his popularity. But Thakur is hurting, having featured only once in T20Is in a World Cup year. The chosen ones are already in Australia and Thakur is talking up India's chances in an ODI series that's being played at home minus the broadcast promotions.

"There is definitely a disappointment. It's every player's dream to play and win a World Cup. This time, I am not selected. That's fine. There is a lot of cricket…an ODI World Cup ahead."

said Shardul Thakur on the eve of the second ODI against South Africa in Ranchi

So, my focus is to do well in the matches ahead. I like to make winning contributions. I would like to win more and more matches for the team."

On paper, Thakur's all-round skills meet India's white-ball requirements. But his unpredictability with the ball acts as a friend and foe. While he banks heavily on variations—seam-ups and cross-seamers, bouncers, and slower balls—numbers suggest there is no one phase of a T2O contest that he truly rules with his medium pace.

Thakur's penchant for clean striking with the bat notwithstanding, he hasn't got an SOS call from the selectors for the World Cup despite a spate of injuries in the fast-bowling group.

"As a player, your responsibility is to be ready whenever and wherever you are asked to play. I try to be mentally ready," he said.

Read Also: Most Runs in T20 World Cup history

If Thakur plays on Sunday, it will be his 26th ODI. It will be one match more than his T20I tally. In the immediate future, perhaps that's where his future lies. The all-rounder has featured in 10 of the 16 ODIs India has played this year. The results have been good — 150 runs at an average of 37.5 and 16 wickets (avg 27.43).

The dearth of multi-skilled players in Indian white-ball cricket and the distinct disadvantage of a bowling group that cannot contribute with the bat in ODIs will always keep Thakur in the mix.

"I've been focusing on batting for quite some time now. Coming in to bat at No 7-8, even No 9, can add a few runs to the total. It gives you (the team) cushion and allows the top order batters to play freely," he said.

"Teams that do well in international cricket have a batting line-up which is quite deep. If you look at Australia, Pat Cummins and Mitch Starc bat at No 8-9. Even England's batting line-up is deep. Then why not India? We can make a difference of 15-20 runs which can be crucial in winning the match."

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