Bengaluru, Dec. 2: Shardul Thakur put up a clinical show with the ball as India clinched a 13-run win over Australia at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
Despite not being a regular in the Indian side, Thakur capitalised on the chance handed to him. After being named on the team for the final ODI in Canberra, Thakur made an immediate impact, as he pocketed three wickets, to help the visitors bowl out Australia for 289.
The 29-year-old’s three-wicket haul also included the prized scalp of Steve Smith, who had registered consecutive centuries in the first two ODIs.
At the post-match press conference, Thakur was asked whether he was frustrated for not getting enough chances. Though he’s been in and out of the team, Thakur said the lack of consistency hasn’t dented his determination to win games for India.
“The selection is not in my hands. It is important that I try to win games for India whenever I play. That is my mindset," Thakur said at the post-match press conference.
Thakur made his debut back in 2017, the player from Palghar has played 27 international white ball games.
“I play to win. I don't think that I am getting just one match or I am playing as a replacement of an injured player. Once you are on ground, all players just focus on winning matches," Thakur, who has played only 12 ODIs in more than three years, stated.
After losing the ODI series 1-2 to hosts Australia, India will now lock horns with the hosts in the Twenty20 series but Thakur is not part of the squad. "The team was selected long back. I was not part of the T20 squad, so I was not thinking about it," said Thakur.
For the world, it is a 1-2 series defeat but Thakur said that the team thinks that they are playing a six-match white ball series. "We are looking at it as a six-match series instead of three match ODIs. From now on, we can exploit the conditions as boys are getting used to it (conditions)."
Asked about the big scalp of Smith, Thakur said he relished dismissing the former Australian skipper. "Everyone wants to win. The plan was to bowl on stumps. He is their top player, getting him early was huge."
Thakur further added that his aim was to bowl straight and not allow Australian batsmen to play horizontal bat shots. "Important was to bowl our lengths consistently. The Australian have played a lot of cut and pull shots.
"I just tried to keep them off those shots and made them play straighter and it worked for me."
The difference in this game was using more variations. "The grounds are big. So you have to be smart enough to execute your plan, where you want the batsman to play their shots.
"The wickets were good to bat so more important for bowlers to use variations smartly, execute the plan ball-by-ball. That was the key," he said.
David Warner was missing from the Australian line-up after he walked off with a groin injury during the second ODI. Thakur said that the absence of the explosive opener worked in India's favour.
"To be honest, David Warner was not playing. It was a good opportunity for us to put them on the back foot and try to win this game, take advantage of the situation. There are three upcoming T20 games and hopefully the Indian team can carry this momentum into the Twenty20 series."
Thakur was full of praise for teammate T Natarajan who made his debut on Wednesday. He was taken to cleaners in the beginning but made a strong comeback.
"He has done well in IPL, executed a lot of yorkers. He came back well and that shows he has got a big character. We need players like him. In white ball (format) you are going to get hit. What is important is you come back, develop the confidence and take it from there,” signed off Thakur.
India will next take on Australia in the first T20 International on Friday.
(With inputs from PTI)