Every opportunity counts if you are on the threshold of an India call-up. Pacer Shardul Thakur is no different.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) was another chance the 24-year-old was looking at to up his stakes for an India cap. The Mumbai pacer had everything going for him — a phenomenal Ranji Trophy season with the champion side for whom he grabbed 41 wickets in 11 matches to finish at seventh position in the competition. His eight-wicket haul in the Ranji final against Saurashtra received praise from all quarters.

After a disappointing Irani Cup, Thakur raised his game in the couple of T20 practice matches against England (2-34) and South Africa (1-19) before the ICC World T20.

Warming the bench
Doing well in the IPL would have been a cherry on the cake after a hard-fought season. Instead, Thakur, who was retained by the Kings XI Punjab going into the ninth edition, was made to warm the bench.

Shardul Thakur bowls for Payyade Sports Club during a T20 quarter-final match against Young Mohamedan CC at Parsee Gymkhana  on Saturday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Shardul Thakur bowls for Payyade Sports Club during a T20 quarter-final match against Young Mohamedan CC at Parsee Gymkhana  on Saturday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

After Punjab’s game against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot on May 1, Thakur along with his two Mumbai mates — Armaan Jaffer and Pradeep Sahu — were asked to leave for home.

The whole episode of being ‘released’ by the franchisee has left Thakur shocked. “It is obviously disappointing. I was really looking forward to do well in the IPL. It is frustrating because if you ask anyone in the squad, I was working as hard as anyone else in the training sessions,” Thakur told mid-day after playing a T20 match for Payyade Sports Club on Saturday when he starred with 3-23 to help his team enter the semis of the Salar Jung Community Invitation T20 tourney at Parsee Gymkhana. Payyade beat Young Mohamedan CC by 36 runs.

Thakur was sarcastic in his Twitter post too about being sent back from the Kings XI Punjab. “Will play a t20 game tomorrow for my club payyade sc..playing a game after 2 months..ipl has done wonders.. Certainly,” he tweeted.

Thakur is not bitter over not getting any games in IPL-9. “It could be because of the team combination. But just being there in that group is a great learning experience. It was surely not a waste of time. We have a good coaching staff and great team management as well. It is the feeling of being left out which is hurting me.

“To bowl to different quality batsmen in the nets is in itself a tremendous learning experience. You learn a lot about your game. I feel they should have kept me (with the team),” said Thakur. Kings XI Punjab’s officials were unavailable for a comment.