Shardul Thakur was one of the key players in Chennai Super Kings’ victorious IPL campaign in 2018. If not for his cameo under pressure in their first qualifier against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the yellow army may have had their exit routes sealed. One of the closest witnesses to Shardul Thakur’s unknown hard-hitting skills crucial innings was Faf Du Plessis, who was a spectator at the other end of the crease. Du Plessis recalled how stunned he was to see the fast bowler bat.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s stupendous bowling attack reduced Chennai to 62-6 in defence of 140. It was Faf Du Plessis, who at the other end kept them in the hunt. Despite that, his side kept losing wickets frequently and were teetering at 113 at the loss of eight scalps. The turning point ensued when Shardul came at number ten and smashed 15 runs off one over to take Chennai past the finish line.
In a video posted on CSK’s youtube channel, the Proteas’ Test skipper reminisced that game saying how troubled they were at that point. Having never witnessed Shardul Thakur bat before, Du Plessis had the impression that he would hit one and get out. But the right-handed batsman was thankful that the tailender stayed with him and batted better than him for his five deliveries. The Maharashtra-born pacer smacked three boundaries in his 15 off five deliveries.
“We were in huge trouble as we had lost all our wickets. Its one of those games where you hope you can do something great but it seems a long way away when everyone’s out and just me (du Plessis) left. But the guys who came in, I remember Shardul was unbelievable. I have never seen him bat before, so he came in and I was like probably gonna be tail-ender. He is going to hit one and then he”s gonna get out. But he batted even better than me there for a while. He was unbelievable!”
Faf Du Plessis received the man of the match despite Shardul Thakur’s heroics:
At the end of it, the 35-year old received the man of the match for his unbeaten innings of 67 of 42 deliveries. That was Du Plessis highest score in that edition, in which he played six games and managed 162 runs. MS Dhoni’s men beat Kane Williamson’s Hyderabad by two wickets in the qualifier and would go on to defeat them again to clinch the title for the third time.