Thakur KO's his former team
Shardul Thakur was bought by Kings XI Punjab in 2014, and was given a solitary game over the next three seasons. Midway through the 2016 season, he was released from the squad. A frustrated Thakur took to Twitter and posted: "Will play a semifinal t20 game tomorrow for my club payyade sc..playing a game after 2 months..ipl has done wonders .. Certainly"
After the auction in February this year, Rising Pune Supergiant acquired the seamer from Kings XI. He might have felt a sense of déjà vu after being ignored for Rising Pune's first three matches of the season. Since then, however, he has played in 10 out of the side's 11 matches.
Thakur's canny pace and length variations were central to Rising Pune defending 161 against Royal Challengers Bangalore - the lowest total defended by a vising side at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the IPL.
His bowling smarts resurfaced in a knockout bout against his former franchise Kings XI Punjab in Pune, where the last playoff spot was at stake.
Having won an important toss, Rising Pune captain Steven Smith chose to bowl on a damp pitch. Thakur quickly assessed the conditions, and bowled a slew of cross-seamers. Two of his three wickets were down to cross-seamers that stuck in the surface. In his second over, Thakur had Shaun Marsh spooning a catch to mid-off, and then tucked Rahul Tewatia up early in the sixth over.
Three balls later, he had Glenn Maxwell flicking a catch to deep square leg to leave Kings XI at 32 in 5 inside the first six overs. Kings XI would eventually crash to 73 all out - their lowest total in the IPL. Thakur might have thought: "Take that."
The wow moment
The ball before the dismissal of Marsh. Thakur sent down a 140kph cross-seamer outside off, which burst from a length and beat the top edge of Marsh's attempted square cut. It was, perhaps, a warning to watch out for another cross-seamer or refrain from hitting on the up, but Marsh did not pay attention.
Stats that matter
- Thakur's returns of 3 for 19 was his best in T20 cricket.This was the second time he had taken three wickets in 28 T20 matches.
- His 3 for 14 was the third-best performance in the Powerplay this season.
- He bowled 16 dots in his four-over spell.
What they said
"The cross-seamers were working and it [the ball] was sticking in the pitch. The fielders were brilliant. I, personally, was sweating in the palms in the team bus before the match."
Shardul Thakur on his mindset
"It was a nice day, wasn't it? The bowlers did a terrific job. Shardul was outstanding."
Enough said Steven Smith
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo