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‘Just a rough patch’ – Thakur defends Rahane and Iyer after latest failures

replay of , Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Group B, Asia Cup 2022, Dubai, August 27, 2022
‘Just a rough patch’ – Thakur defends Rahane and Iyer after latest failures


Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer might have failed to snap their lean runs with the bat in the first innings of the Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai, but Shardul Thakur has placed his trust in them to return to form.

Rahane and Iyer scored 7 apiece as Mumbai scored 224 at Wankhede Stadium, with Thakur the top-scorer with 75. Thakur then picked up the first Vidarbha wicket before Dhawal Kulkarni picked up two more to leave Vidarbha at a precarious 31 for 3.

“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 after the 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.

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

Rahane has so far made just 141 runs in eight Ranji matches at an average of 12.81 with a solitary fifty. Iyer has not been a regular for Mumbai this season, 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.

“Ajinkya has not scored runs but his attitude on the fielding is top notch,” Thakur said. “A lot of youngsters coming from Under-23 and Under-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 four runs.

“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.”

While defending the senior pros, Thakur expressed his displeasure at some of the younger batters not grabbing their opportunities in a match as significant as the Ranji final.

“The other batters… we collectively felt that they should have shown a better approach,” he said. “Starting from Bhupen Lalwani, because he survived the first two or three balls in that over [from Yash Thakur, in which he was dismissed] and still chasing that wide one on the fourth delivery, is not on.” Lalwani scored 37, while Prithvi Shaw scored 46, but Musheer Khan (6) and Hardik Tamore (5) failed.

“They have to learn quickly because 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,” Thakur said. “When you score 20-25 or 30 runs, the next runs are for the team. They have to learn about it.

“We just need to regroup as a batting unit [in the second innings]. 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.”

On his own innings – Thakur walked out at 111 for 6 and was the last man out – he said, “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.”

About Kulkarni, who will retire after the final, Thakur said it was emotional to see his old mate turning out for Mumbai for the 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,” Thakur said. “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.”



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