Shardul Thakur Backs Rahane, Iyer to Regain Form, Urges Support for Mumbai Seniors

Shardul Thakur Backs Rahane, Iyer to Regain Form, Urges Support for Mumbai Seniors

Mumbai all-rounder Shardul Thakur has expressed confidence in Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer's ability to regain their form, despite their recent struggles. Rahane and Iyer both failed to score in Mumbai's first innings against Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy final, but Thakur believes they will bounce back.

"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 said. "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."

Thakur urged everyone to support the seasoned pros in their down 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. Shreyas, on the other hand, has not been regular for Mumbai this season owing to his national commitments but his return to the domestic circuit has been far from impressive -- 58 runs from three games at an average of 19.33 with a highest of 48.

However, Thakur said both Rahane and Shreyas have shown the right attitude on the field, something he believed should work as a pointer to the younger Mumbai players. "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.

Thakur was disappointed that some of the upcoming batters failed to rise to the occasion as significant as a Ranji Trophy final. "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.

Thakur rescued Mumbai from a wobbly 111 for six with a counter-punching 75 off 69 balls, an innings that bore similarity to his hundred against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semifinals a few days back. "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.

Vidarbha's Harsh Dubey, whose three-wicket haul included Rahane, said he had dreamt of dismissing the experienced batter. "I enjoyed dismissing Rahane. I had thought before the game that I would dismiss him. I was determined to do it and it was one of my best dismissals in Ranji Trophy," Dubey said.

"I tried to get him to drive since the ball was coming off slower at that length and I was successful in what I had planned," he added.

Tags: #RanjiTrophy, #Mumbai, #Vidarbha, #AjinkyaRahane, #ShreyasIyer

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