Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted a total of 289 balls to save the SCG Test and keep the series alive at 1-1 before India delivered the knockout blow in Brisbane earlier this week, but Shardul Thakur had a role to play in their partnership too. Shardul was to make a big impact in the Brisbane Test the following week, but even as 12th man in Sydney, he did a lot by not doing much.
Coach Ravi Shastri was shouting instructions from the dressing room and sent Shardul out to send a message to the pair, fielding coach R Sridhar revealed in a chat with Ashwin on his YouTube channel. But Shardul, not wanting to confuse Ashwin and Vihari with the barrage of conflicting thoughts in the dressing room, decided to say nothing.
Sridhar said, “Ravi Shastri had a clear message. He called Shardul Thakur (and said) ‘Shardul, come here and tell them that I told this specifically.’ He (Shardul) was almost shivering. He said ‘ What should I say, sir?’ ‘Tell Ash, that I told him’, Shastri replied. ‘What should I tell him, sir?’, Thakur enquired.”
“Shastri said, ‘Ashwin should take care of this end, and Vihari should bat from the other end. Ashwin is the best batsman against Nathan Lyon in this entire team. So he should bat from this end. He has a huge stride which helps him negate spin so well. Vihari is managing Starc and Cummins really well, getting underneath those bouncers. So ask them to continue’.”
Ashwin said: “Then out came Shardul, running out from the dressing room. He was catching his breath when he reached us. We were like: ‘Just say it man’, while drinking water. Shardul said: ‘They told me so many things from the dressing room’. Yes, please tell, (I said). ‘But I am not going to say any of it,” Shardul replied. “You guys are doing a great job. So please continue.”