Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Emerging all-rounder Shardul Thakur (57, 36b, 7x4, 3x6) marked his return to the Indian team in style with a record-breaking scintillating half century in the fourth Test against England at Oval on Thursday.

His brilliant knock with the bat was the only positive for the visiting side on a gloomy day as they were bundled out for a paltry 191 against some disciplined bowling by the English bowlers.

According to cricket experts, attack is the best way to defend. When the top batting order of India with world class batsmen was crumbling like a pack of cards, Thakur showed his class with the bat by hitting some nasty blows. Considering the circumstances and the miserable state in which the team was his runs really worth in gold.

As the hosts have lost three crucial wickets including inform skipper Joe Root with just 53 runs on board on stumps of Day one, the match still hangs in balance. If India will be able to take few quick wickets at the start of the innings on day two, there is a chance for the visitors to come back into the match. In this scenario, Shardul’s attacking knock will definitely be the difference between both the teams.

During his cameo, Thakur also broke few records. He became the second fastest Indian in Test cricket to complete his half century in just 31 balls. The fastest is by legendary Kapil Dev off 30 deliveries against Pakistan in Karachi in 1982. In terms of strike rate, Shardul's 36-ball 57 is the second-quickest fifty-plus score in Tests for India, behind Kapil's 55-ball 89.

Thakur's knock is also the fastest-recorded half-century in Test matches in England. The previous fastest was by great all-rounder Ian Botham, in 32 balls against New Zealand in 1986.

With India still searching a fast bowling all-rounder like great Kapil Dev for a long time, Shardul’s exploits with the bat is a ray of hope. The rookie has a long way to go and a lot to prove. Will he be able to provide the right balance to the Indian team in the long run?
(Edited by Pradeep Singh)