On July 6, 2023, the day after India’s T20I squad for the Caribbean tour was announced, Rinku Singh’s absence from the list was noticeable. Despite his seeming chances, he had been left out. Yet, as he walked off the field after a Duleep Trophy match, an air of tranquility surrounded him. Engaging in light-hearted banter and mimicry, he evoked laughter from his teammates. It was as if he possessed a natural ability to dismiss concerns beyond his control.
Unaffected by Media Attention
Despite a few journalists requesting an interview through Central Zone’s support staff, Rinku declined politely. Far from being seen as arrogant, his reserved nature was simply a reflection of his shyness. Rinku anticipated questions about his omission, but he had a different perspective.
A support staff member shared, “He’s disappointed, but he says he’s seen far more challenges. Not getting picked for West Indies isn’t a cause for dejection. He wants to enjoy his game and do well here in Bangalore. He’s happy to speak later.”
However, that later never came during the two weeks he spent in Bengaluru for the Duleep Trophy. Instead, he received a call-up to the Indian squad, first for the Asian Games in China and then for the T20Is in Ireland.
Quiet Yet Impactful – Rinku’s Playing Style
As mentioned, Rinku is a man of few words even when he does speak. This quiet demeanor was evident during the post-match presentation ceremony in the second T20I against Ireland. He was awarded the Player-of-the-Match for his impressive 38 off 21 balls.
His innings had two distinct phases. Initially, he took his time to set himself up, understanding the dire batting situation after a mini-collapse. Aware of India’s limited batting resources beyond No. 8, Rinku was methodical. Then, sensing the need to accelerate, he executed his striking plans with clarity.
Shift from Accumulator to Beast
For the first 15 deliveries, Rinku scored at a run-a-ball rate, mostly focusing on singles. However, in the 19th over, he shifted gears against Barry McCarthy. He effectively dispatched a wide yorker for four and read a slower offcutter early, sending it sailing beyond long-on for six.
Rinku’s strength lies in his solid foundation; he doesn’t rely on premeditated movements to confuse bowlers. His confidence in clearing the ground is his driving force. McCarthy felt the pressure after those hits, delivering two successive wides in an attempt to outwit the batter.
Reflecting on those hits, Rinku stated, “Life has changed quite a lot after those five sixes. People only remember me because of that. It feels good.”
Consistency Across Formats
Contrary to the notion, Rinku’s success isn’t confined to the IPL. While his IPL performances are notable, they don’t do justice to his consistent contributions in domestic cricket for Uttar Pradesh.
In the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, Rinku emerged as the second-highest run-scorer in the Elite division. His remarkable average of 105.88, with 953 runs in 13 innings, included four centuries and three half-centuries. Similarly, at the List A Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2021-22, he steered Uttar Pradesh into the knockouts with 379 runs in six innings, at a strike rate of 94.75.
The Impact of Visibility
These achievements highlight Rinku’s all-format capabilities, emphasizing that his journey to the national team was not solely built on one innings. However, that performance did grant him the visibility his domestic efforts had not garnered. Rinku acknowledged the difference visibility made, saying, “Life has changed quite a lot after those five sixes. People only remember me because of that. It feels good.”
Looking Ahead with Perspective
Rinku has encountered numerous challenges, yet his grounded upbringing has bestowed upon him a balanced perspective on fame’s transient nature. As he steps onto the field for future matches, he’s likely to remain composed, much like he was after his impactful performance.
With the T20 World Cup on the horizon, Rinku may aspire to secure a spot in the squad, but his calm demeanor will prevent sleepless nights. Just as he wasn’t perturbed by a run-a-ball 15 in Dublin, he maintains his focus on his game’s essence and his gradual journey towards greatness.