Shardul Thakur has been on a spree in silencing his critics in Johannesburg. First with a sensational spell that saw him record figures of 7/61, the best-ever by an Indian in South African soil, and then by smashing his way to a 24-ball 28 including five fours and a six, each of which were good enough to make the highlights package.
On a surface where batting appeared to get tougher, the likes of Rishabh Pant and Ravi Ashwin tried to slog rather unsuccessfully, but Shardul was cut off a different piece of cloth. Known for some of his swashbuckling cameos, Shardul went about constructing another, this time with an array of stunning shots that would best make a collage wallpaper.
The all-rounder wasted no time to get into the act, smashing Lungi Ngidi on the up off the second ball he faced for four and then dug into Marco Jansen with two fours in an over – one a stand and slap cut and another a proper erstwhile Calypso-flair cut shot that had social media drooling in sync.
When Jansen came back next over, Thakur had more in the tank – a swivelling hook shot that cleared the fence paled in comparison to a straight drive, followed by a smirk, next ball, confirming the Lord had arrived at the Wanderers and he carried on with another heave behind square for four.
Shardul raced to 28 in no time, pushing India’s lead from a tentative 157 to 198 with his presence.
WATCH SHARDUL THAKUR UNLEASH HIS STUNNING CARNAGE FOR INDIA HERE
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India were cruising at one stage on day three thanks to a century stand from Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, but soon found themselves in trouble when they lost three wickets in quick succession, the Rishabh Pant slog in particular inviting heavy criticism.
But Shardul’s cameo and stand with Hanuma Vihari put India on course for a 200-plus run lead, which seems more than decisive in this Test match on this surface, considering India’s relentless pace attack and South Africa’s own batting woes.
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