In its 15 years of existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has witnessed many a player coming from wilderness to make a name for themselves. Kolkata Knight Riders’ Rinku Singh became the latest entrant in this list after he scored a brilliant unbeaten 42 off 23 balls, hitting six fours and a six to help KKR win by seven wickets.
Rinku raised 66 runs for the unfinished fourth-wicket partnership with Nitish Rana (48 off 37, 4×3, 6×2) as Kolkata Knight Riders reached 158/3 in 19.1 overs to overhaul Rajasthan Royals’ score of 152/5 in 20 overs.
For his superb unbeaten 42 off 23 deliveries and two catches, Rinku was adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’, his first award in the IPL, bringing to life a remarkable journey for the 24-year-old from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh that involved five-years of wait in IPL wilderness hoping for an opportunity to show his worth after years of toil at the domestic level playing for Uttar Pradesh.
Rinku, who was lapped up by KKR for Rs 80 lakh, has had to fight odds all his life and hence it was no surprise that he excelled when put under pressure like he has been all his life. While speaking to the Indian Express newspaper, Rinku was quoted saying that he almost became a sweeper to support his family.
“He took me to a place where they asked me to be a domestic worker — saaf, safaai aur pochaa maarna (sweeping and mopping). I came back home and told my morther, ‘I will not go again. Let me just try my luck in cricket,” he told The Indian Express.
Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum on Monday alluded to his remarkable journey from the town of Aligarh, known more for its locks than cricketers, to becoming an IPL player and winning his maiden ‘Player of the Match’ award.
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“He’s an amazing story. He’s been around the franchise now for a long period of time. Before the first game that he played, I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time with him. He knew for his own self-worth and his own career that he needed to make a statement in this competition. He was able to do it in the first game.
“He’s such a great team man, a wonderful human being and the real vibe and culture of the group is set by Rinku. Some players just deserve to have things go their way and Rinku is one of them,” said McCullum after Rinku guided the team to victory against Rajasthan Royals.
In IPL 2022, Rinku has so far scores of 35 (28 balls) against Gujarat Titans, 23 (16) against Delhi Capitals and 42 not out (23 balls) against Rajasthan Royals on Monday. With three good knocks, Rinku has at least cemented his place in the KKR Playing XI for the next few matches and if he continues to shine, he may even draw the attention of other franchises, which could result in more game time.
The left-handed batter and right-arm off-break bowler, Rinku, who comes from a lower middle-class family as his father works for a domestic gas agency delivering gas cylinders, has played age-group cricket for Uttar Pradesh and had to save money from his daily allowances to help his father pay off a loan of Rs five lakh.
“I am the first to play IPL from Aligarh, though many have played Ranji Trophy. There is pressure in the IPL that is not there in first-class cricket. It`s been five years, I haven`t been getting chances regularly. Feels good to contribute now,” he added on Monday.
(with IANS inputs)