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R Sridhar recounts Shardul Thakur violating Ravi Shastri’s directive during the Australia Tests

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is one of cricket’s most anticipated Test series. The series has provided fans with many unforgettable moments throughout the years. The previous iteration of the series is undoubtedly the most memorable of all, including everything from the 36-all-out episode to Team India’s historic triumph at the Gabba.

Although the victory at Gabba remains the most talked-about match of the 2020-2021 series, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari’s exploits in the third Test cannot be overlooked. The injured Ashwin and Vihari fought a formidable Australia to a thrilling draw at the SCG.

R Sridhar, India’s former fielding coach, revealed in his book “Coaching Beyond” that then-coach Ravi Shastri determined that Ashwin would face Nathan Lyon while Vihari would face Australia’s speed attack.

The strategy was going swimmingly until both players chose to take a single, which slowed things down. Shastri chose to send out Shardul Thakur during the drinks break to urge the batsmen to adhere to the strategy.

“After sticking to their respective halves of the agreement, they took a single, which exposed Vihari to Lyon and Ashwin to the quick guys. A couple of songs later, nothing had changed, and Ravi was losing his shirt “Sridhar put pen to paper.

“He called replacement Shardul Thakur and instructed him, ‘Listen to me very carefully and repeat this to them: No matter what happens, Vihari will handle the fast bowlers, and Ashwin will play Lyon. There will be no singles; there will be no change of ends. Got it?’ Shardul grinned coyly and answered, ‘Yes, sir,’ before charging to the centre with a bottle of water for Ashwin “He went on to say.

Thakur allegedly lied about communicating Shastri’s message to Ashwin and Vihari after returning from the middle. Thakur remarked, rather than instructing them to adhere to the strategy and not take singles, “They’re saying a lot of stuff, but don’t worry. You’re hitting well; just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Sridhar goes on to explain in his book that in the heat of the moment, Thakur did the right thing and uttered what the two batters wanted to hear. Ashwin and Vihari then went on to play for 259 balls, resulting in an epic draw.