India beat West Indies by four wickets on Sunday to clinch three-match series 2-1 in Cuttack. Chasing the target of 316, Indian openers Rohit Sharma (63) and KL Rahul (77) shared a 122-run stand for the opening wicket, followed by Virat Kohli's 85, which laid the foundation of India's four-wicket win over West Indies. But Shardul Thakur was the real game-changer for India as he slammed unbeaten 17 runs off 6 balls in the business end of the match to steal the game for hosts.
Shardul came to bat on the second ball of 47th over after skipper Kohli's departure. He didn't take much to settle as he hit the very first ball of his innings to four through the cover drive to cheer-up the Cuttack crowd. In the 48th over bowled by Sheldon Cottrell, Shardul pulls the third ball for a 64m six.
"If I would think about Kohli getting out, I would be under pressure. But the important thing was that there was a set batsman. The whole idea was to meet the ball. It was one of those days when I could connect well and luckily it came off. I know I have the talent to bat," said Thakur after the Cuttack heroics.
"If I can contribute these 20-25 runs when the team needs me, I would be glad. Going ahead, I would want to practice more. I would be more than glad to contribute with the bat," he added.
Shardul shared 31 runs crucial stand with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who also slammed unbeaten 39 runs off 31 balls to set up the tone for India's victory.
After the match, Jadeja said that it was skipper Kohli, who told him to play the natural game when he was feeling the pressure.
"I was only thinking that the wicket is nice and the ball is coming to the bat. 'Just try to bat properly, don't play silly shots, look to time the ball' - his advice to Shardul. There was a bit of pressure, I hadn't batted a lot in the series, but here I was under pressure to win a game, " said Jadeja
Virat just asked me to play my natural game. The score was reflecting on the scene, so I knew the situation well," he concluded.