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From Wriggling In Mumbai Locals To Shining In SA Series: A Story That Kindles Hope

The spirit of Mumbai is infectious. Once you get into the city, it won’t let you go out without putting up a show. There is no place in the world as wholesome as Mumbai, big, loud, calm, beautiful, and most importantly, iconic. Bachchan’s stardom, Tendulkar’s devotion, Ambani’s success, and Shahrukh’s magnanimity all at one place.

The city runs faster than Jamaicans on a race track. It gives you no sign, no hint, no warning; it just comes right at you with all of its surprises. Many come to the city fearlessly with the sole purpose of making it big in life. And here is a story in the midst of this wonderful city.

Hailing from a small town in Palghar, Maharashtra, which is around 90 km north of Mumbai, Shardul Thakur travelled hours every day with nothing in mind but a pure ambition of becoming the best cricketer the world has ever witnessed. The 26-year-old lad has had an enthralling journey right from dragging his cricket kit to practice every day, to becoming the most sought after pace bowler in the Mumbai domestic circuit.

When Shardul played for his school team, he once hit six sixes in an over. He was very adamant in his teens and avoided the advices he received. He was a healthy chap and people would often taunt him over his weight. This inspired him to work harder than ever before because now he had a point to prove to everyone who did not believe in him. He began listening to the advices he received and jotted down points that will enable him to improve his performance.

Working hard and making it big

Initially, Shardul was not picked for the under-19 squad in his first year. He worked harder and was picked the very next year. He was also pursuing a graduation degree alongside. “Whenever there have been doubts over me, I have dealt with them by practicing more,” says Shardul. He revealed that his school coach Dinesh Lad is still his go to man when it comes to taking advice.

“I discuss my cricket a lot with him. The best part about him is whenever I bring up a failure; he immediately calls it the first step to success,” the fast-bowler added.

Shardul made his first class debut in November, 2012 against the Rajasthan cricket team. He did not have a great start as he took only four wickets from equal number of games. Despite all his efforts and constant struggles, he found it difficult to catch the eye of national selectors due to the large number of bowlers in the fringes.

However, it was during the 2015/16 Ranji finals when the tables turned, and Shardul took eight wickets in the match to lead the side to their 41st Ranji trophy victory.

After a long anticipating wait, the moment had finally arrived and Shardul was called up to be a part of the Indian Test squad for the tour of the Caribbean islands. He officially became a fringe player and had the chance to bowl at some of the world’s best batsmen. He made his debut in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab, then was later acquired by the Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017. In January 2018, Shardul was bought by the Chennai Super Kings in the 2018 IPL auction.

Landing in people’s hearts

The other day, Shardul got off his Emirates flight from South Africa with the Indian team and boarded a local train from Andheri back home, just like he always did. Only change this time was that now he was an established Indian cricketer and not some anonymous struggler trying to make a mark.

“Straight from business class to first class! I had my headphones on and just wanted to get home soon,” he said.

He sensed the furor in the compartment when everyone looked at him wondering if he really was who they thought he was, their very own, Shardul Thakur. A few kids even googled his picture and asked him for a selfie. Some old time travelers even recalled seeing him in the train for years.

They felt an immense gush of delight seeing the local buy, their very own, do so well in his career. With his head held high, his feet still remain grounded. Mumbaikars have built a real soft spot for him not just because they’ve seen him progress right in front of their eyes but also because of his humble and down to earth character.

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