The curious case of Pankaj Singh
The man has been ticking all the right boxes over the last few years consistently. You wouldn’t find his name in the IPL wicket taking charts though. Let’s go back to the playgrounds of Indian cricket- The Ranji Trophy.
Pankaj Singh is a name that resonates with anyone who has been following the domestic circuit closely for a long time. For many, who’ve just read about him in the small columns attributed for domestic cricket coverage in local newspapers, he is a wicket taking machine. He has consistently been among the highest wicket takers for a long time that if he would make his debut in British soil would be the highest wicket taker (300 wickets) in the domestic circuit to make his debut (a record previously held by R. Vinay Kumar, 241 wickets).
Pankaj Singh has never been in the limelight for his bowling in the IPL. A lacklustre performance with the Royals a few seasons ago is his only achievement in the IPL record books.The tall bowler from Rajasthan has been instrumental in his teams performances in the Ranji Trophy, helping them to achieve successive Ranji Trophy victories in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.This year too, his 39 wickets places him among the top 5 wicket takers this year.
Despite the consistency, the selectors had decided to turn a blind eye to his achievements; achievements that would belittle any other fast bowler donning the national colours.Some ardent fans would remember him from the team selected to the infamous 2007 tour Down Under. Having warmed the benches for the entire series, Pankaj would have had his hopes dashed to find him excluded from the series that followed, without even getting a chance to play at the test level. It took him another 7 years, and a mammoth number of domestic wickets to get him closer to his dream of playing for the country.
There are a lot of players; talented players who have never played for the country. They played in the streets;some played for small local clubs, and some gave up their dreams to make ends meet.But what can the selectors say about turning a blind eye to a player who has been in the right places, at the right time and with an almost perfect resume.His open pleas to the selectors have finally earned him a deserved spot for the crucial English tour.
With a lot of promising fast bowlers performing poorly after a good season, Pankaj has been the exact opposite with a consistency that few others can claim for. Having average below 25 in 4 out of 5 seasons since 2009, it’s shocking that he hasnt even been on an India A side up until now.Comparing among fast bowlers who have made Test debut since 2009, Pankaj Singh tops the list with the maximum number of wickets.
Pankaj Singh has surprisingly donned the Indian blue once, during the 2010 ODI series against Sri Lanka in Harare. Pankaj Singh had a lacklustre debut, conceding 45 in 7 overs in that match. With a lot of fast bowlers being tried and tested over the past few years, it’s time Dhoni threw the ball to the man that has been ruling the bowling charts in India for some time now.
With age not on his side, it wont be long before this man hangs up his boots, and India might lose out on a genuine fast bowler that could have scaled heights.