Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo
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Shardul Thakur has said that he is being looked at as an "all-format player" for India. Even though he has predominantly featured in ODIs this year, in the limited conversations he has had with the India captain Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid, Thakur said that the management wants him to play all three formats for the national team.
"In the first conversation between them and me, they conveyed to me that I am a three-format player for them," Thakur, who starred with four wickets to bowl New Zealand A out for 167 in the first one-dayer, said on Thursday. "They are looking at me in all three formats. After that [conversation], we really did not sit and have a chat because we have been playing games regularly. If you see, the schedule is packed. The Indian team is playing series after series with a gap of just four-five days. No one has really had time to sit and chat with each other. All the chat that we have had otherwise was game-based, or planning in terms of strategy for the next game - that kind of stuff."
Seen as a seam-bowling allrounder, Thakur has not always been the first-choice option for India in the limited-overs format. He was not part of the recently concluded Asia Cup nor did he make the cut for the upcoming T20 World Cup. However, with the next ODI World Cup in India is just over a year, he could well be in the mix. With Hardik Pandya back in the XI as a pace allrounder, Thakur will be competing for the third seamer's slot, with the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Deepak Chahar, while Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will be leading the pace attack.
Having gone wicketless only twice in nine ODIs this year, and picking up 14 wickets at an economy of 6.02, Thakur said that he was "definitely looking for a national call again" irrespective of the format.
"I am bowling well, getting wickets. Even in the last two white-ball series [against Zimbabwe and the West Indies] that I've played, I have taken wickets. So definitely looking for a national call again whenever they want my services," he said.
Overall this year, Thakur has featured in three of the five Tests that India played, where he also starred with a seven-wicket haul in the Johannesburg Test and has played only a solitary T20I in the 27 games played by India so far. In 50 overs, Thakur has played nine out of 15 games.
Though he was initially a part of the West Zone squad for the ongoing Duleep Trophy, Thakur was drafted into India A contingent after Prasidh's back injury. In the two first-class games against New Zealand A held in Bengaluru and Hubbali before the List A games, Thakur took three wickets. How has he adapted his game for various formats and conditions?
"The moment T20 cricket was introduced, players had the challenge to switch between formats," Thakur said. "As a professional, it's our responsibility to switch immediately. In recent years, the switch has been happening a lot. It's not the case where you play red ball first, you move on to ODIs and then T20Is, it all depends on what kind of schedule we have. I think as a player we just have to be ready and whenever we get time, apart from playing a match, like in nets or maybe a couple of days between the series, we just have to practise different skills that you would use in different formats."