Shardul Thakur’s sparkling knock in the fourth Test at South London’s “The Oval” on Thursday caught England’s fast men bowling with their tails up, off guard. India’s first innings was in disarray, vindicating Joe Root’s decision — weighing up the pros of grey overhead conditions —- to insert the visitor in. The home team’s seamers used the darker Dukes ball with finesse to cause the downfall of India’s top guns who defended with angled and closed bats, as well as followed the ball outside the off stump. Much against the run of play, the Palghar boy, Thakur who likes to swing the ball, scattered it, striking big blows in front of the wicket. After a pyrotechnical display that resulted in a fastest Test half century at The Oval, Thakur, who was told many years ago by Sachin Tendulkar to shed weight in order to be more efficient and effective, stated that there is greater security playing with a straight bat against the ball that in English conditions moves in the air and of the surface and that he has been practising in a similar fashion since arriving in England. It was a tough ask on even the most accomplished Indian batsmen to defeat the England seamers’ ploy; except for Virat Kohli who carved a lovely half century. But Thakur threw his wrists at everything leaving England flummoxed.