Shardul Thakur © AFP
Shardul Thakur © AFP

Shardul Thakur is the talk of the town ever since he was named in the Indian team for their tour of the West Indies. Having taken as many as 41 and 48 wickets respectively in the last two seasons of the Ranji Trophy, the Mumbai pacer was banging the doors of selection in the Indian national team. The selectors did not make him wait for long; the right-arm pacer was named in the Indian squad for the upcoming tour of West Indies. The Indian cricket team will be embarking on the tour to the Caribbean for four Tests in July-August 2016, and despite the pitches not assisting the fast bowlers as well as they used to decades ago, the touring party consists as many as 5 seamers. ALSO READ: Jeff Thomson confident of Shardul Thakur performing well

Among Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, there is Shardul who is looking forward to his first-ever international tour, eager to learn the nitty-gritty of international circuit. Shardul, who idolises Dale Steyn, wants to bowl like the South African pacer and is looking forward to the tour of West Indies in July-August. ALSO READ: Shardul Thakur learns about West Indies conditions and pitches by watching ‘Fire in Babylon’

On the sidelines of the announcement of former Australian pacer Jeff Thomson joining the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA)-IDBI Federal Life Insurance bowling Foundation for the second season, CricketCountry’s Devarchit Varma caught up with the 24-year-old Mumbai pacer. Here are the excerpts of the exclusive interview:

CricketCountry (CC): You once hit six sixes in the Harris Shield, how seriously you take your batting?

Shardul Thakur (ST): Obviously I focus more on my bowling but batting is a department which I do not ignore as well. In recent time I did get a few opportunities to prove myself in the batting department as well, and occasionally I have done that. I am looking forward to some more opportunities to bat; score runs and support my senior partner who is batting there. Obviously if (there are) a few lower-order like No. 9, 10 or 11; I have also scored runs with them and added runs for the team. ALSO READ: Shardul Thakur: 6 interesting facts about India’s young pacer picked for West Indies tour

CC: As a fast bowler who goes through rigours of playing a lot of cricket, what is your priority when it comes to fitness?

ST: (There is) nothing different when it comes to fast bowlers and what they need to do, I mean the exercises. But we know that lower body parts are really important for a fast bowler and the shoulder strength so my concentration is there.

CC: Many of the former fast bowlers believe in the traditional formula of fast bowlers needing to run a lot in order to remain fit. Do you agree, and do you run a lot?

ST: Yes, I do my running a lot, but it gets difficult when you are playing matches. We all obviously run a lot during the match itself. But whenever I am not playing a match I make sure I go for my run.

CC: A fast bowler’s body goes through many changes as his career pans out. How do you wish keep yours?

ST: I would say I have to be a bit leaner and strong, and definitely quicker. ALSO READ: Shardul Thakur: The next big product of Mumbai cricket

CC: With as many as 5 seamers in the Indian side for West Indies tour, there will be a very tough fight for selection. What will be your topmost priority in terms of learning?

ST: See, it is my first tour with the Indian team; it is the first time I have been selected. (As far as) getting an opportunity (is concerned), I do not think that will come easily. Obviously I have to work hard (after) going there. I will try to learn a lot of things speaking to my seniors such as Virat [Kohli], Ishant is there. They have been in the international cricket for a long time; they have played with both the generations. I will try to learn from their experience as well.

CC: How much have you learnt from a fast bowler as experienced as Mitchell Johnson during the IPL?

ST: See, there are a lot of things to learn from a lot of bowlers. But it is important for you to figure out what works for you. It is always good to get a lot of ideas. Mitchell [Johnson] has been like a big brother to me, he has always supported, and answered silly questions as well (laughs). He has been very humble that way. We discuss a lot of things about cricket, particularly what he did during the difficult times or what he did when he was at the top of the game.

CC: You idolise Dale Steyn. Do you want to bowl like him even on toughest of wickets for fast bowlers?

ST: Yes, I try to take out some lessons from his bowling as well, how he bowls on the flat wickets as well as on the green tracks.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)