For the 26-year-old cricketer, it has been a fascinating journey.
“I could have bowled better,” Renuka Singh insists.
She is referring to her performance in the final of the Women’s Asia Cup at Sylhet last month. No, her figures didn’t read something like none for 40.
She had, in fact, taken three for five from three overs, helped India win the title, and was also named the player-of-the-match. That refusal to sit on her laurels — and the urge to improve constantly — has taken her to the No. 3 spot in the ICC’s ranking for T20I bowlers, just a year after making her debut. And yes, her remarkable ability to swing certainly helps.
The swing in her fortunes may have been delayed by the coronavirus, which ensured she could make her India debut only last year on the tour of Australia last year, but she believes it was probably a blessing in disguise. “I got time to work on my bowling and I became a better bowler by the time I made my international debut,” Renuka, who is playing for India-D at the Senior Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy here, tells The Hindu.
For the 26-year-old, it has been a fascinating journey from Rhodua to Lord’s, where she just fell one short of fulfilling her dream to take five wickets in the third ODI against England in September. She says she is indebted to so many people, including her mother, who looked after her and her brother after the untimely death of her father, her coaches, and Anurag Singh Thakur, the Union Minister and former BCCI president who started a women’s cricket academy at Dharamshala.
“I probably would not have become a cricketer if he hadn’t taken that decision to form an academy,” she says. “There weren’t opportunities for girls to play cricket in a small State like Himachal Pradesh. At the academy, coach Pawan Sen moulded me as a swing bowler, and I have benefited a lot from working with India’s coach Ramesh Powar, too.”
An admirer of Zaheer Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, she loves watching Test matches and is hoping to play in the format. And the female bowler that inspired her?
“Harpreet Dhillon (of Punjab),” she says.