The hard life of the eternally smiling cricketer Rinku Singh, the rising star of KKR

The hard life of the eternally smiling cricketer Rinku Singh, the rising star of KKR

There is no room on the trophy shelf in Rink Singh’s room. The latest addition to the collection is his Man of the Match award for his enterprising cameo against the Rajasthan Royals. “It was my first Man Match match, so it’s special,” says Kolkata batsman Knight Riders. There is another trophy that dates back ten years and is very expensive. He took home a figure of a cricket player for becoming the man of the series during the “School T20 World Cup”, which took place in his hometown of Aligarh.

The organizers of the tournament also handed Rink the keys to the motorcycle. The two-wheeler was a blessing to Rinka.

“That was the day my father stopped beating me for playing cricket.” Every time I came back from a match, I got hit because my father thought I was wasting my time. The motorcycle caused a change of heart in him, because he realized that I could really play the game. We didn’t even think to buy a motorcycle then, because we couldn’t afford it. So it was a big day for me and my family, “Rinka recalled.

The motorcycle made life easier for his father Khanchand Singh, a gas cylinder deliveryman. He stretched the cylinders for him, and his older sons helped him meet the delivery goals.

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Khanchand watched his third son’s breakthrough season in 2022 on old tube television. Although his son has moved on in his life, Khanchand and his wife Vina still remain in a two-room dilapidated shack in a gas cylinder warehouse. During a short break between the IPL and the start of the Ranji Trophy, Rinku moved to a newly built three-story house in the Rambagh Colony. He meets every day for family time and food before training in the evening.

Rinku Singh Rinku Singh in his old house, where his parents still stay. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

“I told Dad to stay in the new house.” But Dad wants to stay here in the yard. He has been working here for 35 years, so he feels good in this environment, “said Rinku. The playground is full of childhood memories.

Khanchand points to the gate, where he waits for his crazy sons to return home to cricket. “I didn’t want them to end up like me.” I wanted them to study and get a good job. That’s why I was against playing cricket. Rinku will always remember that because he received most of the shots because he was the most enthusiastic cricketer in our family, “says Khanchand.

He watched a live television broadcast of each of the seven matches Rinka played for KKR, which was his longest series of matches of the season. Since his debut for KKR in 2018, Rinku has made a name for himself as a sharp player in the field with a safe pair of hands and as a reliable 12th man. However, his shot still did not click.

This season he batted at No. 6 and No. 7, the 24-year-old took the opportunity to finish. He won 174 runs on strike 148.71. Rinku’s clever selection of shots, six strokes and faster than knocking with the ball made him a contender for the “starting player” award. “I’m proud of Rink.” He worked really hard and was so patient that he got where he was. He also did a lot for the family and was so responsible. He experienced some difficult moments, but he did not give up, “said Khanchand.

Rinka in front of his trophy cabinet in his new house. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Rinku’s career almost derailed in his early teens. He no longer remembers exactly how old he was when he accompanied his brother to the coaching center to look for work to help the family make ends meet. “I think it was in 2010. I just started playing, but my mother asked me to look for a job because we had to make money. At the coaching center, I was asked to sweep and clean. I was told to do it early in the morning so that no one would see me. I decided not to take it. “I came home and told my mom that I would help my family by playing cricket,” Rinku said.

Overcoming mental barriers

Abhishek Nayar, KKR’s assistant coach, informed Rinka that he was part of Game XI for the match against the Gujarat Titans. Rinku pinched. “Did I hear that? That was my first reaction, “Rinku said. Then he quickly went through the names of the pitchers he could face the next day. Three of them were Express Tempo, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph and Lockie Ferguson. Rinku experienced butterflies in his stomach and was also worried because he was watching out for pitchers at 145 km / h.

“It wasn’t scary, but I always had such a complex at the back of my head that I was facing international fast pitchers. There are no pitchers in Aligarh who are really fast. Even in domestic cricket, it’s rare for someone to play 145. I also got a few shots and once broke my jaw. So it was in the back of my mind. Somehow before this season, I wasn’t sure about batting. Dab dab ke khelta tha, “said Rinku. When faced fast, he will be restrained.

As soon as his nerves calmed down and after clashing with several balls in the middle, Rinku sent Joseph over his delicate leg to six. He hit four of four, two against Ferguson, and finished 35 out of 28. “After this inning, I felt I could score runs against these fast pitchers. It was just a matter of confidence. “Two games later, Rinka won the men’s match for 42 undefeated when he didn’t win against the Royals. shifts.

Rinku Singh with his coach Masooduz-Zafar Amini. (Express Photo – Gajendra Yadav)

Nayar says the Rink has been working for the last four years and everything has fallen into place this season. A three-month stay in Mumbai has also changed the world, Nayar believes.

Mumbai would be Rinku’s second home after undergoing knee surgery (meniscus rupture). As Rinku was preparing for his second run during the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year, he heard a crack. “I faced another five to six balls, but I felt something was wrong.” I knew I was missing an IPL. “I was out of seven months because I had to undergo surgery and also recover,” Rinku said.

He remembers that his father fell into depression and did not eat for two days when they told him about his injuries.

During his recovery, Rinku spent a lot of time at Nayara’s KKR Academy.

“We have been working on technology and skills for the last three to four years. When you make changes, it sometimes takes time to develop. I feel that in the off-season he had a lot of time to incorporate the technique. It used to be that he could play in first-class cricket, but under pressure he lost a bit of what we were working on. This year, he felt that technical improvements were in place, and that gave him confidence during the IPL, “said Nayar.

Rinku Singh on a motorcycle, which he won as the Man of the Series during the T20 Schools World Cup. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

The change of attitude also helped Rinka hit him with a bat.

“He grew up in a small town with the idea of ​​a follower rather than a leader. I think that this whole period in Mumbai, when he was alone and had no one around him and just practiced, it developed a lot for him as an individual. I’ve seen a lot of changes. Little things like how he befriended a rickshaw, who picked him up from the hotel every day and then to my house and then we went to training. He tried to enjoy life in Mumbai, where he is fast, and that made a difference. ”

In the last game of the KKR season, Rinku was close to facing an unlikely victory against the Lucknow Super Giants. He scored 40 out of just 15 balls, with KKR chasing 211 for victory. With 21 needed from the last 6 balls, Rinku scored 4, 6, 6 from Marcus Stoinis over before Evin Lewis grabbed one hand in a deep cut short of his inning.

“I almost pulled it off.” The next day the shot could have hit four or six. But such is the nature of the T20. You have to support your skill set, even if it doesn’t work all the time, “Rinku said.

Rinku Singh at his new house in Aligarh. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

He hopes to be a regular member of the KKR team after having had to wait several years. He played 10 games this season with just 77 runs to show. A string of seven games in a single season helped boost his confidence. In addition to being consistent, Rinku also wants to catch more English words.

“Sometimes there can be a problem in communicating with foreign players. I speak a lot, but English is a problem. Whatever I know, I say, they understand that I mean. If (Brendon) McCullum wanted to tell me something important, I’d get someone to translate it.

Rinku at the door of his newly built house in the colony of Rambagh, Aligarh. (Express photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Outside the IPL’s spotlights, Rinku takes the time to talk to age group cricket players at Aligarh Cricket School, where she trains. Coach Masooduz-Zafar Amini says there has been an increase in entries.

“He is the first Aligarh player to play in the IPL, so he became a role model. The parents of the children want his advice. Young cricketer longs to talk to him. The good thing about Rink is that he’s still on his feet. It gives time to anyone who wants to talk about cricket, “said Amini.

Rinku tells novice cricket players the importance of patience and hard work. “These words sound like simple things, but they work. See how long it took me to affect the IPL. But even though I didn’t get the games, my approach was the same, I was always cheerful. I wanted people to be happy when they were around me. Ask anyone who will tell you that Rinka has always smiled.


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