| Inzamam-ul Haq in action in Faisalabad on Saturday
Faisalabad: Almost three decades after Kapil Dev made his Test debut at the Iqbal Stadium, it was Rudra Pratap Singh’s turn to do so. On Saturday, the 20-year-old made a bigger opening-day splash than the icon who encouraged a generation and more to bowl quick.
Singh ended with three for 77 and, on returning to the team hotel (Serena), called his Rae Bareli-based parents Shiv Prasad and Girija as also his Lucknow Sports Hostel and College coaches (Deepak Sharma and S.P. Krishnan).
Kapil, incidentally, had gone wicketless in his first innings and Singh made an impact on a day when the experienced Irfan Pathan was treated with such disdain. Flat wicket or not, Pathan just wasn’t up to it and, towards the close, Shahid Afridi smashed him for 20 runs in one over.
“My parents and coaches wanted to know why I hadn’t informed them yesterday that I’d be playing... Mujhe explain karna para ki I myself only got to know this morning,” Singh told The Telegraph, recounting with a smile.
Captain Rahul Dravid gave the “good news,” saying he should continue bowling the way he did in this season’s ODIs. Coach Greg Chappell’s advice was simple: ‘Stick to basics and don’t forget your potential’.
After stumps, he patted Singh for a job well done while Dravid gave him credit for “bowling with heart” and getting the ball to “bounce.” He lauded the youngster’s “discipline” as well.
“Actually, I’d begun preparing mentally once the captain announced the XIII at the team dinner last night... I was, of course, hoping I would make the XI... Then, on reaching the ground, it was said I may open if we bowled first... That really set the adrenaline flowing, pumped me up...” Singh pointed out.
His ODI debut was in Zimbabwe and then, too, the captain (Sourav Ganguly) asked him to launch the attack. If that was a defining moment, no less was the one when Shoaib Malik became his maiden Test victim.
Singh, by the way, is following the UP versus Mumbai Ranji Trophy semis, despite being hundreds of miles away from the action (in Mumbai). “Abhi main business centre gaya tha to check the scores on the net... It’s nice that UP took the first innings lead... Accha lag raha hai...”
Be it in Lucknow or Rae Bareli (or even birthplace Bara Banki), Singh’s debut must have added to the feel-good mood.
Meanwhile, according to Dravid, session No. 1 on the second day will be an “opportunity” for Team India to recover ground lost in the final one on Saturday. “We didn’t bowl well and gave away too many (131 runs) in the last session,” he rued.
Perhaps, the breakthrough is again going to be provided by Singh.