Shardul Thakur finishes the last ODI of the decade in style

A cameo at the end from the Mumbai pacer meant that India clinched the ODI series 2-1.

Photo: ICC/Twitter

Pacer Shardul Thakur, often referred to as the Palghar Express, steered India towards a win over the West Indies in the final ODI match of the decade after his heroics with the bat and helped them clinch the series 2-1 at Cuttack on Sunday.

Chasing the visitors' 315/5, the decider was veering towards the home team when they needed 30 runs off the final fours with captain Virat Kohli batting on a well-paced 85 and Ravindra Jadeja at the other end.

But Kohli departed at the start of the following over bowled by Keemo Paul, which made the match tense as Shardul Thakur, an Eagle Thane Strikers pick in T20 Mumbai, walked out to the crease with the tail on the verge of being exposed.

However, Shardul Thakur eased some of the tension with a drive through the covers off his first ball, getting off the mark with a four and saw off the over with a few singles bringing the equation down to 22, needed in the final 18 deliveries.

"If I'd thought about Kohli getting out, I would just be under pressure," Shardul Thakur explained. "But the important thing was that there was a set batsman at the other end."

In the next over bowled by Sheldon Cottrell, Shardul Thakur took strike in the third ball and thwacked a short ball over long leg for a six and then smashed the next one to the midwicket fence for four, much to the delight of the fist-thumping Kohli, getting the ask to just nine runs needed in 14 balls.

With his three strikes, that included a maximum, Shardul Thakur had ensured that he didn't let the match go down to the wire, taking the pressure off the team as Jadeja wrapped up the runs with eight balls to spare.

"The whole idea was to meet the ball. It was one of those days. I know I have the talent to bat at No. 8," said Shardul Thakur who scored 17 runs in just six balls with the help of a six and a couple of boundaries without playing a single dot. "If I can contribute these 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," added Shardul Thakur, who put on an unbeaten 30-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Jadeja in just 15 balls with the latter making 39*.

Earlier, India had got their chase to a good start with a 122-run opening partnership that ended in the 22nd over. Rohit Sharma, a former designated Icon Player in T20 Mumbai, scored a run-a-ball 63 (8x4s, 1x6) with KL Rahul (77) and eventual Man of the Match Virat Kohli (85) making contributions as well.

Shardul Thakur didn't quite make his contribution with the ball count much as he proved expensive on the day with 1/66 in his ten overs, but he did manage to pick Windies' highest scorer, Nicholas Pooran, for 89.

Rohit Sharma was named the Man of the Series, as his daddy hundred in the preceding ODI and his fifty in Cuttack made him stand out in the three-match affair.

"It was a decider, we wanted to win this game," declared Rohit Sharma.

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