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Shardul Thakur backs ‘role models’ Shreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane: "Time to support them rather than criticising"

Mar 10, 2024 09:47 PM IST

Thakur, who is enjoying his purple patch with the bat, said it's easy to criticise and urged everyone to support Rahane and Iyer in their tough phase.

Mumbai all-rounder Shardul Thakur has backed under-fire Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer after their another flop show in the Ranji Trophy final. Rahane and Iyer have lost their places in India's red-ball set-up and their current form in domestic cricket has put them under the scanners once again.

Shardul Thakur's 75-run knock helped Mumbai bounce back in Ranji Trophy final.
Shardul Thakur's 75-run knock helped Mumbai bounce back in Ranji Trophy final.

In the Ranji Trophy final against Vidarbha, the Mumbai pair registered identical scores - 7 as the 41-time champions managed to score just 224.

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Mumbai once again needed Shardul to rescue them with a fighting 75-run knock which put the team back in the game.

“Ajinkya is not scoring runs throughout the season. He is not in the greatest of the forms. We cannot blame him as it is just a phase for him where he is not getting runs,” Thakur told the media after the first day's play.

“It's just a rough patch for them. That's what I would say (about) Shreyas (and) Ajinkya. These guys have been absolute match-winners for Mumbai and India."

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Thakur, who is enjoying his purple patch with the bat, said it's easy to criticise and urged everyone to support Rahane and Iyer in their tough phase.

“Right now, it's not their time; it's time to support them rather than criticising them because it's easy to criticise,” Thakur said.

Rahane has so far made just 141 runs from eight matches at an average of 12.81 with a solitary fifty.

However, Shreyas has played just three matches for Mumbai this season due to his national commitments. The middle-order batter has scored just 58 runs and struggled miserably on his short-ball weakness.

“Ajinkya has not scored runs but his attitude on the fielding is top notch. A lot of youngsters coming from U-23 and U-19 cricket in Mumbai don't have the attitude that he has. You see him in the slips, even if he is fielded for 80 overs, he will sprint (to) save (those) four runs,” Thakur said.

“Shreyas moves around the field like a tiger. He absolutely gives everything that he has on the field. Both of them are role models when they are in the dressing room,” Thakur added.

Meanwhile, Thakur was critical of the young batters in the side who failed to step on the big occasion.

"The other batters...we collectively felt that they should have shown a better approach. Starting from Bhupen Lalwani because he survived the first two or three balls in that over (in which he was dismissed) and still chasing that wide one on the fourth delivery, is not on,” he said.

Thakur minced no words when he said that players will have to put the team first.

"They have to learn quickly because (the) Mumbai dressing room is not about (your) own self. When you play here, you play for the team. You have to keep your individual scores, your own game aside.

“When you score 20-25 or 30 runs, the next runs are for the team. They have to learn about it."

The 32-year-old said the Mumbai batting unit will have to regroup in the second innings.

“We just need to regroup as a batting unit. There are going to be tough days as a batting unit. Probably, we will just have a meeting and decide collectively how are you going to put a big score on the board from the first three or four wickets," he noted.

The bowling all-rounder also talked about his 75-run knock which helped Mumbai recover from 111/6 and helped them post a fighting 224.

“I love to play in tough situations and tough conditions. The kind of life that I have lived travelling far from Palghar to Mumbai with the kit bag on the train, you know it was not easy. That has toughened me up,” he said.

Veteran pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, who will retire after the final, replaced injured Mohit Avasthi in the 11 for the title clash, and Thakur said it was emotional to see his old mate turning up for Mumbai one last time.

“Today morning it was confirmed that he is playing. It was going to be his last game. It was an extremely emotional moment for him.

“It's an emotional moment for me also because I have watched him since childhood. When I did not have money to buy shoes, he gave me a few pairs of shoes,” Thakur recalled.

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