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Rinku Singh - a one-stop solution for India’s all T20 batting needs

Last updated on 19 Jan 2024 | 06:46 AM
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Rinku Singh - a one-stop solution for India’s all T20 batting needs

Seldom does such a player crop up from a country that has its mindset set in the run aggregation stone

“If you want to play for India, score truckload of runs,” is one of the common perceptions in the country. It is perhaps a perception that has hurt India the most. 

But over the last year or two, that perception has been changing rapidly, and the major driving force behind it is Rinku Singh

You look at Rinku; there’s a guy who isn’t too bulky, who isn’t built to carry the weight, yet time and again, he carries the team’s burden and chances on his shoulders. 

There’s a lot of weight behind the Uttar Pradesh batter’s talent at the moment. Since his T20I debut, no batter has scored more runs than the southpaw in the last two overs, a phase where he has scored 134 runs, almost double the second-best batter, Matthew Wade

If you look at his strike-rate in the last two overs (19 and 20), the numbers have smashed the roof, scoring at 326.8. Chances are that you have been with us until now; you would have heard all of this either while watching Indian games or discussing it with your friends. 

Read: Unveiling Rinku Singh: Maestro of the onslaught, chasing the elusive cut

But Rinku has never been a one-trick pony. Neither is he just an IPL superstar. Rinku has worked his backside year after year at the Ranji Trophy level, where he has racked up 3099 runs, averaging a high 58.47. 

He isn’t a crazy madman walking around. He is a technical masterclass plying his trade in a country laced with endless talents, which has gone unnoticed. 

Versatility? Call Rinku maybe 

Rinku is versatile in every definition of versatility. Not only does he bat in multiple positions, but he also has a unique talent in the country - being a one-stop solution to every Indian problem. Rinku has walked out to bat across all phases in a T20 encounter - in the powerplay, middle-overs and at the death. 

Time le, 4-5 ball le, settle ho, fir apne haath khol (Take 4-5 balls to settle down and then shift to top gear). Those tips and learnings helped me a lot during IPL and now for India too,” it was that small piece of advice from Suresh Raina that opened up Rinku’s approach in the shortest format. 

And Rinku’s game is all about “Time le, 4-5 ball le, settle ho, fir apne haath khol (Take 4-5 balls to settle down and then shift to top gear). While he does have an impressive overall first ten-ball strike-rate of 150.5 in T20Is since, he is more about soaking the early pressure and taking the attack to the opposition later. 

When Rinku walks to bat in the powerplay

His approach has been cautious whenever he has walked out to bat in the powerplay. It is not rocket science that a team is in trouble if Rinku has walked out to bat in the powerplay phase of a T20 clash. 

It has happened on six occasions (across T20s (IPL+T20Is)). Across all the occasions, the left-handed batter has started slowly, seeing the danger out with a strike-rate of 113.3 in his first ten balls. But as the innings progressed, his impact on the clash became profound. 

On Wednesday (January 17), Afghanistan had a first-hand experience of Rinku’s wrath with the bat. The Uttar Pradesh batter only faced four deliveries in the powerplay, scoring two runs. But as the innings progressed, he grew increasingly into the contest with some swashbuckling shots. 

And, if he hasn’t been dismissed after facing 30 balls, then good luck, opponents. Afghanistan can vouch for it, given the left-hander ended his innings on 69 off 39 deliveries. 60 off those runs came in the last 29 deliveries, with Rinku only scoring nine off the first ten. 

Overall, Rinku has a very good record while walking out to bat in the powerplay - 278 runs, 69.5 average, 143.3 SR, three 50s.

How about just after the powerplay? 

Rinku’s approach is slightly different when he walks out to bat after the powerplay (7-10), where he only strikes 101.5 off his first ten deliveries. But if he crosses that phase, the carnage is on, with his strike-rate jumping to 145 in the next ten-ball phase before booming beyond 200. 

In fact, after facing 20 deliveries, Rinku scores a boundary every 2.8 deliveries, which decreases to just 2.3 after 30+ deliveries, showing that the left-hander has often played to the situation. 

His numbers were incredible across the last three times that the left-hander walked out to bat just after the powerplay. When he walked out to bat in the 9th over last time, he smacked a 29-ball 46 against Australia, with six boundaries in the innings. 

It wasn’t a one-off incident, either. On the previous two occasions too, the left-hander scored 67* off 33 and 53* off 33 against Lucknow Super Giants and Chennai Super Kings, showing his worth in that phase as well. 

A little too crazy after the first ten overs

“Oh, Rinku, that’s sumptuous,” is what the commentators have time and again uttered when Rinku has walked out to bat after the first ten overs. It is quite a common entry point for the left-hander in his T20 career. 

Since 2022, he’s walked out 11 times in that phase of the innings and on every single occasion where he has faced at least ten deliveries, he has finished with a double-digit score. Even his lowest score (9) in that phase is unbeaten, where he walked in with only a few runs left in the clash against Afghanistan. 

On 63% of the occasions, he has had a strike-rate of at least 140, smashing 269 runs at an average of 53.8 and a strike-rate of 151.1. It is because of his ability to counter both pace and spin, with the left-hander having the second-best strike-rate (175.7) for any middle-order batter with a minimum of 50 balls faced (top ten team). 

Against pace, too, his numbers are incredulous, with the strike-rate just south of 200. 

A monster at the death

Well, a monster. We all know the damage. Since 2022, across both IPL and T20Is, the left-handed Rinku has scored 336 runs, striking at 254.6. 

57 freaking boundaries in the last two overs. 

That’s a boundary every 2.3 deliveries. It is almost like the left-hander is a total menace to the opposition. Whenever the left-hander has walked out to bat after the 16th over, he has a strike-rate of 228.6 in the first ten balls. If he crosses the ten-delivery mark, then that jumps to 350.“He is coming off age and doing what is expected of him and he has done really well for India. It augurs well for the team moving forward, wanted someone like that at the backend and we know what he has done in the IPL and he has carried that to the Indian colours as well,” Rohit’s statement on Rinku only goes on to prove why the left-hander is cut from a different cloth.

He is a total monster at the death. While we all adore and admit Rinku’s death-over pyrotechnics are tough for anyone in world cricket to replicate, we forget the most important part of his game: his ability to mould himself to whatever the team demands across different phases. 

“Jagah to banani padegi (You have to make place in the squad),” said Suresh Raina on air when the commentators asked where India can include Rinku. 

India’s last T20 title came all the way back in 2007 when MS Dhoni and co had a certain left-hander named Yuvraj Singh in their lineup. In no certain ways is Rinku of the same ilk, but when it comes to the bubbly effervescence - that is his batting - Rinku can fill that void and give India a real hope of breaking their T20 World Cup jinx. 

As Raina said, the selectors must now make a place for the Uttar Pradesh batter has solved an age-old problem in the Indian national team in under a year. Even though it has been just a year, the 26-year-old feels natural in the setup. 

It shouldn’t be surprising if Rinku walks out in India’s opening game against Ireland on June 5, 2024.

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