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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Rinku Singh’s game can meet demands of longer format, feel experts

Rinku Singh is somebody I’d call a left-handed MS Dhoni, says Ashwin

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 20.01.24, 08:34 AM
Rinku Singh during the T20I series against Afghanistan.

Rinku Singh during the T20I series against Afghanistan. PTI picture

Rinku Singh’s presence in the India dressing room during the first Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion did come as a surprise in several quarters.

On tour with the limited-overs side, Rinku was asked to stay back to get a feel of the red-ball conditions. Having made his ODI debut in South Africa, he had a fruitful T20I series too, hitting a 39-ball 68 in the second T20I after the first one was washed out. In the final game, he made another useful contribution as India levelled the series 1-1.

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The team management’s move is being seen as an intention to gradually blood him into the longer format. His sense of the occasion, calm head and cool temperament are believed to have impressed head coach Rahul Dravid and the national selectors.

So will Rinku be tried out in Test cricket? His 69 not out and an unbroken 190-run partnership with Rohit Sharma in the final T20I in Bangalore on Wednesday proved that he can handle pressure situations. India had been reduced to 22/4 but the pair got together to dismiss the threat posed by the bowlers.

It was his propensity to play proper cricketing shots and not slog, unlike most T20 batters, which stood out. He displayed a good technique with his shot selection bringing into focus his knack to excel in all circumstances and formats.

Dravid didn’t forget to make a special mention of Rinku after the match. Rohit too praised the left-hander’s “mindset”.

“For someone who is just starting out in international cricket, just the maturity he’s shown, the calmness is terrific,” Dravid said. “We’ve seen him come in at the back end of an innings and finish games off, but to see him come in at 22 for 4 in the sixth over and to just build that partnership and show what he can do at the back end, it was very good for us to see that.

“When we have these conversations with him, he’s very clear about his skills, what he knows what his strengths are, what he needs to work on and how he’s going to go about constructing his innings.”

Ravichandran Ashwin went a step ahead and compared him with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Rinku Singh is somebody I’d call a left-handed MS Dhoni. I can’t compare him to MS just yet because MS is too big. But, I am talking about the composure that he brings,” said Ashwin on his YouTube channel.

Rinku has come through the ranks and, unlike others, has never ignored first-class cricket which has reflected in his approach. He played a Ranji game after being released before the second Test in South Africa and has also made himself available for their tie versus Bihar, which began in Meerut on Friday.

Chandrakant Pandit, a part of Kolkata Knight Riders’ support staff and among the most successful coaches
in the domestic circuit, however, prefers a go-slow approach on the middle-order batter without discounting his talent and ability for the longer format.

“The way he performed in the last IPL had raised expectations and he has not disappointed. I haven’t been surprised by his success given his strengths and ability to be calculative in any situation.

“He has shown maturity and never been hesitant in his approach. His selective shot selection has been his biggest asset in dour situations like in Bangalore,” Pandit told The Telegraph on Friday evening.

“I wouldn’t wish to confuse him at this point in his career given the form he’s in. The IPL is coming up and he should just focus on the T20 World Cup in June. Give him that platform and he will carry the momentum into the June tournament.”

Pandit though agrees that Rinku has the flair to excel in the longer format and deserves an opportunity in Test cricket.

“Why not?” he argues. “He is like Sehwag in T20s or Jayasuriya. None can guarantee success but you can’t doubt his abilities. Shreyas Iyer and Yashasvi Jaiswal have also taken a similar route.

“At the moment, let him stay on this platform. Give him some time and don’t rush him, he will succeed.”

The team management is ready to play the waiting game.

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