SHARDUL Thakur was so near yet so far to becoming the hero for Chennai Super Kings. The IPL final against Mumbai Indians is still fresh in his mind as he replays the last ball of the match where he was out lbw to Lasith Malinga with the team needing two runs for victory.
At times, Thakur feels he should have opted for a different shot than a flick over square leg. “Paoon nikalke marna chahiye tha (I should have got my leg out of the way and blasted the ball),” he says, recalling the last play of the tournament.
With four needed of the last two balls, Thakur was sent ahead of experienced Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar when Shane Watson was run out. He never asked and nobody told him the reason for the promotion.
Thakur says that everyone in dugout was told to be ready for their turn to bat. When Watson was dismissed, Thakur was asked to go in. He got two off the first ball off Malinga with two more required.
“When I walked to the crease, the only thing running through my mind was to win. It’s (Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal) a big ground, if the ball goes in the deep, there are chances to get two runs. He (Malinga) was bowling round the wicket and square-leg was up, and if he missed the yorker, I had aimed to hit over square-leg. I got two off the first ball,” Thakur told The Indian Express.
Ravindra Jadeja, who was at the non-striker’s end, came and told Thakur not to go for an aerial shot.
“The plan was to keep the ball grounded and run, just run,” Thakur recalls before adding, “I had aimed to play to the bada (long) side of the ground. The thought process was that if the ball hits the bat, one run will come easily, but ideally the ball should go in the place where we can get two runs.”
On the early morning flight from Hyderabad to Mumbai, Thakur went threw various alternate scenarios.
“I should taken my left leg out of the way and tried for a big one. I have the capability of hitting a six. I go through such thoughts now. In tense moments, someone is going to lose, someone is going to win. Unfortunately, it was us who had to lose. You never know a day may come when I will score the winning run,” he points out.
“When the ball hit my pad, I just ran and didn’t look at the umpire. It was a chance to become a hero, but cricket doesn’t stop here. I hope next time I will not squander such a chance. I missed it, what can be done now! Bad luck, ball didn’t connect.”
The dressing room was quiet, Thakur was emotionless. He knew he had missed a great opportunity. ‘But nobody over-reacted,” he says when quizzed about the mood in the team even though they were upbeat when Watson and Faf du Plessis gave them a quick start in the first three overs.
But Thakur’s focus in now on more pressing matters. He will be undergoing a right ankle surgery in England, after his injury got aggravated in the IPL. He consulted Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma over it and decided to go under the knife before the start of the next season.
The senior national selection committee, though, has named Thakur for the multi-day matches in the Caribbean beginning late July.
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