Shardul Thakur India England ODIs
Shardul Thakur was the only Indian to take a wicket at Headingley Getty Images

Shardul Thakur (along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar) was drafted in as India replaced their two seamers, Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul, for the ODI decider against England, at Headingley. Thakur ended with figures of 51 for 1 in 10 overs. He got the dangerous-looking Jonny Bairstow, and finished as the only successful Indian bowler of the match. Before that he smashed two sixes in his 13-ball 22 not out: it was the first time he batted, in his 11th international outing.

However, he elaborated after the match how it is never easy to come off the bench and perform in high-pressure games without match practice.

This was not the first time Thakur got a solitary match in a series. As he told PTI, the one-game-a-series thing is not easy to handle: “I played the last game in South Africa when we had won that series, and it wasn’t a necessary win for us. Playing this game, I was obviously a bit nervous because it is the series decider. When you are put under pressure, it’s a player’s responsibility to put forward your a-game. Sometimes the results go your way, sometimes they don’t.

“When given opportunity in a one-off game my mindset is always to win the game for team when I step on the field. While playing this game, it was the same. Also when I am put in different teams, whether I am put in India A or in domestic cricket, it is always the same.”

Looking back at the game, he said: “It’s unfortunate that we lost this game. If you see overall we have done quite well. Keeping the World Cup in mind, which is next year, I think whatever batsmen have learnt from this T20 series and ODIs will be useful. How to bat in these conditions and for bowlers how to bowl in these conditions, I think it is very important. And going forward in this year’s cricket, whichever games we play, I think our team would execute what we want to do.”

Thakur also mentioned the turning point of the match: “Shikhar [Dhawan] and Virat [Kohli] were going really strong. If they had continued to bat till 40th over, maybe it would have been different and we could have put up 300. The wickets we lost in the middle overs made the difference.”

He also lauded the Englishmen for handling Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav well: “If you saw the pitch, it had changed and got slower. They were playing spin easily on the back-foot and taking singles. So they played them very well.”

Thakur also voiced that England were favourites for next year’s World Cup: “They are obviously favourites because these are their home conditions. England know them better how to play cricket here, so other teams have a big challenge to play here. They have played well against Australia recently and now against us, so it will be difficult to beat them. But when we do come back we will be all geared up.”