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The legend of Rinku Singh has just begun

Last updated on 08 May 2023 | 07:37 PM
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The legend of Rinku Singh has just begun

The Rinku Singh show is not be enjoyed as a one-off vocation, but a rather surreal experience that tells you when self-belief marries confidence, magic happens quite frequently

There is nothing about Rinku Singh that suggests the demeanor of a superstar. But perhaps, therein lies the biggest achievement of Rinku’s career. He slips under the radar, but his blows are the most potent equipment ever devised to put the fear of gods in the opposition camp.

It’s not only because of his performance in the IPL 2023 where he is head and shoulders above everyone else in the KKR line-up. The swagger that he endures without having to put on a facade is perhaps Rinku’s single-handed contribution to this year’s IPL playbook. The nonchalance played a perfect antidote to the whole philosophy of Kolkata Knight Riders. And boy, has it worked? KKR are currently placed at the fifth position after languishing towards the bottom of the barrel for a really long time. 

Turn the clock a year or two back. Rinku Singh was considered an outlier in the supposedly-flamboyant KKR line-up, without a clear role definition. Everyone knew that he existed, and often it was accompanied by a smirk. His only claim to fame was his consistent performances in the first-class format, but for that to translate onto the IPL stage needed a moon shot. Would it land or not was it only a matter of chance?

Has one game ever catapulted the whole history? Wander your mind back to Marnus Labuschagne’s substitute performance in the 2019 Ashes. Coming in as a concussion sub for a far-more-popular Steve Smith, the Queenslander owned the stage in such a way that the world still continues to crave more. Rinku’s tale lands a familiar punch. 

Those five sixes against Yash Dayal surely changed the narrative for him but what he has managed over the next nine games has made sure that the only way for him from now is up. Despite being a designated finisher, Rinku has already amassed 337 runs at an average of 56.16 with a terrific strike rate of 151.12.

In the truest sense, Rinku has been KKR’s crisis man this season. With their openers blowing hot and cold and then the middle-order failing to inspire any confidence, Rinku has become the biggest cog in the wheel in the triage. Even accounting for the arbitrariness of the KKR batting order, it became evident day by day that Rinku has an inevitable role to play.

On Monday, it had to be the Rinku show once again. Even though the wicket was assisting the spinners, it was baffling on the part of Shikhar Dhawan not to sub in Sikandar Raza in the second innings. As a matter of fact, ahead of this encounter, Rinku had struggled to score freely against spinners and had an ordinary strike rate of 114 against them. That he was scoring at a strike rate of 170 against pace made it way easier for him to take the chance head-on. But that couldn't be an excuse for what was a complete performance in isolation.

“He had told me what if the ball beats you, should we go for the run? I said for sure, I have faith in him to finish it last ball,” Andre Russell said of Rinku in the post-match presentation. “I get goosebumps seeing him doing what he's been doing. I have company at the back end, he soaks the pressure off and he's been here for years now, a really hard-working guy. He's very funny outside the field, I try to stay as close to him while we are training.”

Punjab learnt their lessons like other teams have this season but slowly it is becoming a regulation for the fans to witness something special in every KKR game. The Rinku Singh show is not to be enjoyed as a one-off vocation, but a rather surreal experience that tells you when self-belief marries confidence, magic happens quite frequently. 

“I just keep telling him, believe in yourself because what you have achieved is something, not many people ever will,” skipper Nitish Rana said in the post-match interview. “When he was batting, the whole crowd was chanting 'Rinku, Rinku'. That is what he has earned this year. I've been at this franchise for many years now, I'm used to the Eden crowd screaming 'Russell, Russell' but to hear them shout 'Rinku, Rinku' makes me feel very happy and proud. That's the respect he has earned this season.”

And that respect is not going away anytime soon. 

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