Shardul Thakur swings bat and ball to seal it for India

A cameo with the bat and two wickets from Shardul Thakur helped India seal the T20I series against Sri Lanka.

Photo: BCCI/Twitter

Shardul Thakur swung his bat to good effect in his cameo against Sri Lanka in the T20I series-decider at Pune on Friday and then went on to bag two wickets to help India win the match, earning the Player of the Match award for his efforts.

After his heroics with the bat against West Indies in the ODI series-decider last month, the Mumbai pacer came out against Sri Lanka to prove that his cameo wasn't a one-off.

Coming into bat at 164/6 with 17.4 overs bowled after wickets fell in successive balls, Shardul Thakur got off the mark off his first delivery and was set to face Lasith Malinga, who would bowl the penultimate over.

He met the Sri Lankan veteran with much aplomb as he slogged the first ball towards mid-wicket for six before he took a couple of singles to face the final over. There, he struck Lahiru Kumara for a maximum off the second ball, lifting one straight over, and then smashed the next one towards cover for four.

The 28-year-old remained unbeaten on 22 off just 8 balls, with a boundary and two sixes, and put on 37 runs for the seventh wicket in just 14 balls - 19 of which came in the final over - with Manish Pandey as India posted 201/6 at the end of their innings.

"I believe I have the ability (to bat) and recently I've been practising well," said Shardul Thakur, an Eagle Thane Strikers pick in the T20 Mumbai league. "The idea is that if I can contribute runs at No. 8 it'll be good for the team."

Faced with a daunting total, Sri Lanka lost their first wicket in the opening over and when Shardul Thakur came on to bowl the second, he launched a swinging delivery which Avishka Fernando played right into the hands of the Shreyas Iyer at point.

While he didn't get the hat-trick set up from the preceding match, the wicket meant that he had scalped four batsmen in his last eight deliveries across two matches. He went on to make if five in 20 balls when he came back and rid of Dasun Shanaka, who mistimed a pull back into the bowler's hands, as Sri Lanka continued to fall apart.

"I can bowl good outswingers, so initially the idea is to swing the ball. If you swing the ball in any conditions, you can get wickets," said Shardul Thakur, who claimed 2/19 in his three overs.

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