Shardul Thakur. Pic/AFP
Hoping to represent India in red-ball cricket for just the ninth time, India pacer Shardul Thakur is hoping to make the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity count in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) Final help his country claim its maiden title.
Though the 31-year-old pacer from Mumbai is hoping to make just his ninth appearance in Test cricket in the WTC Final against Australia starting at The Oval on Wednesday.
Thakur told the ICC that he is determined to make every opportunity count in an Indian jersey, with the chance to be selected in an ICC Final representing a once-in-a-lifetime moment for him.
"I feel that ICC event finals especially, you don't get to play them everywhere every year, so it's, for a few players or somebody like me, a once-in-a-lifetime m"ment," Thakur was quoted as saying by ICC.
"All that I want is to make it count. It's always a special moment when you're representing your country - especially India when there are a billion people out there who dream of playing for the nation and only the best 15 have been chosen to represent the country,"
"Especially being involved in this Final, from 7 June onwards in England for the World Test Championship, it feels really special, I'm"honoured."
Thakur is banking on his experience of playing in England as three of his appearances have come there. Thakur has claimed eight wickets in these matches and had also struck two half-centuries in the last series India played in that country.
It was at The Oval, the venue for the WTC Final starting on Wednesday, where Thakur came up with one of his best Test performances. Coming in with India in trouble in the first innings, he struck a counter-attacking 36-ball 57, before contributing to a heavy lower-order total in the second innings with his excellent 60.
He contributed with the ball too, troubling England's top order throughout and dismissing Ollie Pope, Rory Burns and Joe Root.
"It's always good to remember your previous performances on a particular ground, but every game"is a fresh start," he said when asked about that Oval display.
"It's different opponents this time around, but yeah it's always good to take motivation from what you've done in the past on " particular ground."
Though India will finalise their playing XI only a few hours before the toss for the WTC Final, Thakur will be in contention to play as the third quick due to his ability to move the ball and provide runs down the order, and he could also be part of a potential four-pronged seam attack should India opt against playing both of their spinners.
Thakur will be particularly useful if there are any overcast periods during the match as there could be rain on Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- the scheduled fourth, fifth and reserve days.
"I think England is challenging because the we"ther here is a bit funny," Thakur said. "When the sun's out it is good for batting, when it's overcast it's good for bowling, so the toss hardly matters, it's all about the cloud cover," said Thakur.
"Obviously the pitch also plays an important role, but we've seen in the past that whenever there's cloud cover the ball suddenly starts swinging and you can't really predict how much the ball is going to move, so that's one of the biggest challenges that a batter faces," he said.
"When it's not swinging England's also got the best pitches to bat on, so it becomes equally tough for bowlers. Even in the helpful conditions it's sort of important to find the right length to nick a batter off or hit his pads, so this is"a country that's challenging," he added.
Whether he gets a chance to play or not, the experience of being part of a World Test Championship (WTC) Final will boost Shardul Thakur's confidence to try and cement his place in the playing XI.
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