Shardul Thakur may be a cricketing star now but he epitomizes the quintessential Mumbai trait of having to traverse long distances to realize one’s dreams (something he is fond of even now). Born in Palgarh, his journey from childhood to becoming a menacing pacer for Mumbai and India is the stuff of dreams and that of unending effort and persistence.
However, it was not a fairytale start for him as he managed just 4 wickets in his debut season in the Ranji Trophy. He redeemed himself in the 2013/14 season, picking up 27 wickets in 6 games and came of age in the third season since his debut, snaring 48 wickets and was the joint-highest wicket-taker for the 2014/15 season.
Despite these, he had to wait for a bigger golden moment to make it to the Indian team and it came in the final of the 2015-16 season. Playing against Saurashtra, he picked up 8 wickets in the game and led Mumbai to their 41st Ranji Trophy win. This set in motion his maiden selection to the Indian team, when he was drafted into the side for the Caribbean tour in 2016. However, he did not get to feature in any game.
Shardul is a hit-the-deck bowler who can generate vicious seam movement and has perfected the outswinger over time, making himself a dangerous proposition against any batting side. In the year 2018, Thakur played his maiden Test match although it lasted for just 10 deliveries as he, unfortunately, got injured. The pacer though didn't give up and was once again part of the Indian Test team during their 2020-21 tour of Australia. His maiden fifty in Brisbane was one of the high points of the series that India eventually pocketed.
In the Indian T20 League, Shardul was initially with Punjab and Pune, but his more fruitful stay came with Chennai where he had a successful stint that lasted four years. In the 2022 mega auction, Thakur was bagged by Delhi for INR 10.75 crores. Besides his primacy in bowling, Shardul is a handy lower-order batsman with an ability to use the long handle, something which he has done for the Men in Blue on a few occasions.