“It’s good to see my trolls praising me now” – KKR batter Rinku Singh

Rinku Singh. Image Courtesy: IPL
Rinku Singh. Image Courtesy: IPL

Ever since joining Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2018, Rinku Singh has become a popular face of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.

The left-handed batter might have played just 10 matches prior to IPL 2022, but his affability and infectious energy have endeared him to his KKR teammates and the support staff alike.

Those following Indian domestic cricket all year round would agree that Rinku is vastly underrated. He averages over 60 in first-class cricket, over 50 in List A cricket and has a decent T20 record (1,155 runs from 63 innings at a strike rate of 138.65). Yet, for some unfathomable reason, he has been the subject of memes that undermine his merit and mock the Knights’ decision to keep him in their squad.

The IPL, despite its fair share of criticism, has changed the lives of several talented youngsters in the country, and Rinku is a prime example of that. Son of an LPG cylinder delivery man in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh, he grew up battling financial hardship to pursue his cricketing ambitions.

The southpaw’s big-hitting prowess created ripples in junior-level cricket and his instant impact at the senior level after making his Uttar Pradesh debut in 2014 helped him land an IPL contract worth ₹10 lakh with Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in 2017.

However, it wasn’t until KKR picked him for ₹80 lakh in the 2018 mega auction that Rinku made his IPL debut. Given a lower-middle order role, he played only four matches that season and managed a meager 29 runs.

The diminutive batter played six more matches over the next two seasons, but those sporadic outings didn’t reflect his true potential. To make matters worse, a knee injury forced him out of action for the first half of IPL 2021. He also didn’t get a game in the second half of the league in the UAE last year.

Recovering from the injury, a fully fit Rinku excelled in the inter-state domestic tournaments and was bought back by KKR for ₹55 lakh in this year’s IPL mega auction.

In a rather forgettable season for the Knights, where they finished seventh in the league table, Rinku was a standout performer, smashing 174 runs in seven matches at an average of 34.80 and a strike rate of 148.72. He hopes to become a regular in the KKR playing XI from hereon and take his game to the next level.

Rinku, along with fellow teammate Nitish Rana and KKR assistant coaches Abhishek Nayar and Omkar Salvi, visited Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Thursday (August 11) to interact with the winners of the Junior Knights Mayor’s Cup, a local Under-18 inter-school competition.

On the sidelines of the camp at the Cricket Association of Bengal’s indoor facility, Rinku spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda about his newfound stardom, KKR’s support during his injury layoff, and social media trolls.

Here are the excerpts:

Q: You’ve been with KKR since 2018, but you didn’t get enough opportunities prior to this year’s IPL. Has 2022 been the most memorable year of your career so far, given the kind of recognition you’re now getting?

Rinku: Yes, you can say that. I’ve been with KKR for five seasons now. I had a few opportunities before, but I couldn’t prove myself. I worked quite hard leading up to IPL 2022, scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket. It has been a good season for me after recovering from a knee injury.

Q: You missed the first half of IPL 2021 due to the knee injury that you suffered during last year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy. It must have been a huge setback for you. How did you deal with the phase?

Rinku: It took me a long time to recover. It was a very challenging phase. Thankfully, KKR stood by me at the time. I called up Abhishek [Nayar] sir immediately after the injury. He told me to come to Mumbai where I underwent an MRI scan.

The injury was serious as I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. KKR looked after me during that phase and it’s because of them that I’ve managed to come back strong.


Q: You seemed to be high on confidence every time you walked out to bat during IPL 2022. Talk us through your preparations.

Rinku: I didn’t try to do anything extra. My rehab process went well, which facilitated a quick recovery. Psychological pain hurts more than physical pain when you sustain a major injury. It wasn’t easy to stay away from the game for six to seven months after having a good run in domestic cricket. I worked really hard in rehab, which proved fruitful in the domestic tournaments and the IPL.

Q: You share a good rapport with Andre Russell. Has he given you any useful tips to improve your power-hitting skills?

Rinku: Russell doesn't share any tips because he knows I’m not as muscular as him (laughs). I can generate power in my shots, but I focus more on timing. If you can combine timing with power, the ball is bound to go a long way.

Q: Despite your excellent domestic record, many people criticized your selection in the KKR squad after this year’s mega auction. How much do trolls affect you?

Rinku: I don’t let trolls affect me. They, in fact, make me mentally stronger. It’s good to see my trolls praising me now. I got a lot of love after my knocks against Rajasthan Royals (42* off 23 balls) and Lucknow Super Giants (40 off 15 balls). I just want to focus on my game and stay away from social media as much as possible.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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