Shardul Thakur: Why is the pacer not bowling for KKR?

One of the oddities of the IPL 2023 so far has been seeing Shardul Thakur named in the KKR starting 11, but not bowling a single ball.

This has happened on multiple occasions, and is beginning to get IPL fans questioning: Why is Shardul Thakur not bowling in the IPL?

Recent comments from the fast bowler have revealed the reason behind this strange decision.

Why is Shardul Thakur not bowling?

India’s Shardul Thakur was originally bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders to be another pace option in their bowling attack.

The fast bowler has 110 international wickets to his name, having represented India 68 times across Tests, ODIs and T20s. With figures of 4/27 in a T20I, and 7/61 in a Test match, Thakur is undoubtedly a class bowler in his own right.

Which begs the question, why has Thakur only bowled 14.5 overs in the IPL 2023 so far? Across his six bowling innings, the pacer has collected four wickets at an economy of 10.78—nothing stunning, but also not good enough to merit a demotion.

In KKR’s most recent match against the Punjab Kings, Thakur played, but didn’t not pitch the ball once.

Shardul Thakur not bowling
Photo Credit: Icon Sport

Thakur explains his lack of bowling

Speaking to the media after their win yesterday, Shardul Thakur confronted the issue and explained why he is not bowling for KKR currently.

Thakur outlined that he has recently been carrying a niggle, stating:

“I had a small niggle, so I didn't play a few games. When I came back, I didn't bowl as I was not bowling fit. But yes, now I'm back to bowling and hopefully whenever I get the ball, I will get the job done.”

However, this was not the only reason for Thakur’s lack of bowling.

The bowler also detailed that because of KKR’s team make up, there will be times when his services with the ball are not required.

“We have a side full of allrounders with Russell, Sunil… We have got maximum of eight bowling options that also includes Nitish, who also bowls an over or two nowadays.”

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He carried on to explain that within the KKR camp, decisions between all of these bowling options are made on a case-by-case basis, saying:

“It also depends on the situation of the game, if the captain feels the need to bowl me or not bowl me completely depends on him. As far as team's strategy, decision-making is concerned, I would not pay attention to it a lot.”

Should India be concerned about Thakur’s form ahead of the WTC Final?

With Shardul Thakur bowling so few overs, should the Indian national side be concerned about his form ahead of the WTC Final in June?

It’s more likely to be Thakur who is concerned, rather than the Indian team. Thakur is one of five fast bowling options, with Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav the other four.

Considering the form of Shami and Siraj in the IPL 2023 so far, Thakur will need to find some regular bowling in the near future if he’s to be a realistic starting option for India.

Whether or not Thakur can do so, is partly up to him, and partly up to the KKR leadership.