It was a dream come true for young Shardul Thakur as he finally made his mark in international cricket on Thursday. The young pacer from Mumbai had to warm the bench for a year since earning his first call-up into the India squad, but made it count when he was finally presented his maiden cap during the fourth one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka.
His hopes of representing the 'Men in Blue' got a major shot in the arm after captain Virat Kohli had announced the team management's intentions of resting a few seniors and giving the bench strength an opportunity. Having clinched the series in the third ODI itself, the visitors showed a relaxed state of mind when they made three changes to their side, including Thakur for the subsequent game.
While the Mumbai pacer bowled a handy spell that fetched him a wicket at a decent economy, he grabbed the attention mainly due to reasons that have nothing to do with his bowling skills. At the start of the Sri Lankan innings on Thursday evening, with Thakur starting the proceedings for the visitors, he was sporting the iconic number 10 at the back of his jersey. For an Indian cricket fan, the jersey number is a sacred one, for it was the number that batting legend Sachin Tendulkar had sported.
Despite retiring from the sport nearly four years ago, Tendulkar continues to dominate headlines for cricketing reasons as well as others. This incident, therefore, was bound to create a buzz on social media. Thakur might have the backing of the team management going into the final one-dayer after an attacking performance at Colombo's R Premadasa, but Indian fans did not mince words in their criticism of the speedster, who they felt needed to show a little more respect to the 'God of Cricket'.
Take a look at some of the tweets from fans expressing their disdain:
— Sir Oggy Billa (@SirOggyBilla) September 1, 2017
Didn't like Shardul Thakur wearing jersey no.10!Infact can't see anyone wearing it except Sachin
Bcci shud respect d emotions of Sachin fans
— Swati (@SwatiT_) September 1, 2017
— Shailesh kulkarni (@ssk12694) September 1, 2017
However, Shardul can take heart from the fact that a few current as well as former cricketers defended his act:
Don't find anything wrong or offensive in this. Shardul was given the right to choose his number. He chose. Why is he getting trolled? https://t.co/Ob52VonRzt — Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 1, 2017
Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who played alongside Tendulkar for more than a decade, said that the legend himself wouldn't have a problem with someone wearing it.
"What's the poor guy's fault if he wore that jersey? It could be his way of paying tribute to the great man, or emulate him, or it could be his lucky number. If you speak Sachin also, he wouldn't have a problem with someone wearing it," Harbhajan was quoted as saying according to a report in The Times of India.
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