Renuka Singh
Source: New Indian Express

Cricket is generally described as a beautiful sport. But what makes it so delightful? Virat Kohli, the run machine’s classy cover drives? Sachin, the master blaster’s magnificent straight drives? Or, would you say only the magnificent catches bagged by Harleen Deol, or blistering 172-run knock from Harmanpreet Kaur alone?

How about the brutal bouncers of Malcolm Marshall? Perhaps adding the in-swingers of someone like Bhuvneshwar Kumar may make it even sweeter.

Do fast bowlers hold an edge in some form worth exploring? Let’s try.

It was 2012 when Pakistan toured India for the last time. A young fast bowler was making his first appearance. Mohammad Hafeez, aka the Professor, was about to face the debutant’s first delivery. Hafeez had little clue the delivery he was about to play would haunt him forever. He left the first delivery, which took his off stump and led him to the dugout. It was a dream delivery for any fast bowler.

Thus born was Bhuvneshwar Kumar in international cricket. The Indian squad identified a frontline bowler in on that day, and the rest, as it’s said, is history.

Only a few fast bowlers have had the envious ability to swing the ball both ways. Balwinder Singh Sandhu bowled the legendary Gordon Greenidge in the 1983 World Cup the same way Bhuvi did in 2012.

But now, it appears, an exciting new name is one its way to join an elite bandwagon of classy seam bowlers.

Renuka Singh Thakur reminded everyone of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Balwinder Sandhu given her recent exploits.

Much like her bright smile, her charismatic bowling has offered a bright new promise to a line-up often pumped by the talent of spinners.

In the CWG 2022 edition, it was, quite frankly, Renuka Singh with her brilliant medium pace spells and the rest of the batswomen.

She dismissed Aaliyah Alleyne with a superb inswinger. That delivery from the right-arm seamer was career defining of sorts.

In a game where women have so often- and so shabbily- be undermined by all the attention resting on the men’s sport, Renuka Singh’s wickets made cricket a level-playing field.

To the intrepid fan, those who unwelcome thoughts like as men’s cricket is the only form of sport, Renuka Singh drew level with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, thus elevating women’s sport with her brilliance on her own.

With Jhulan Goswami as the frontline bowler all these years, India have yet to find a replacement for the Chakda Express. The 39-year-old has featured in 201 One Day Internationals, picking up 252 wickets. Therefore, the person who takes the position of a legend of the sport must be as tough as women’s cricket’s all-time legend.

Renuka has so far pleased the entire Indian management with her swing and wicket-taking ability. The Himachal-born seamer made her T20I debut against Australia in 2021.

She was the leading wicket-taker in the Commonwealth Games 2022, taking 11, including two four-wicket hauls. She stunned Australia in the first match of the CWG 2022, dismissing the dangerous Alyssa Healy for a duck in the first over. The Himachal Express removed four Australian batters, Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney, and Tahlia McGrath being the other three.

She now has three four-wicket hauls, one in an ODI against Sri Lanka and two in the Commonwealth Games.

Moreover, Renuka Singh recorded her best bowling figure of 4/10 against the Barbados Women.

The right arm bowler’s performances stood out principally also because this was an India’s women’s squad without Jhulan and Shikha at a major competition like CWG 2022.

Renuka had more responsibility on her shoulders without both of them. She not only dominated the bowling attack from the start, but also made it clear that she is here to stay.

With the BCCI planning to organize a women’s IPL next year, it will be a major boost for local women cricketers to express themselves on a larger stage. Youngsters like Harleen Deol and Priya Punia will gain more exposure, which will aid their development.

Renuka’s career is still in its early stages, with only sixteen matches under her belt. And yet, she’s emerged as the beautiful promise giver to a team full of promise and potential.

The potential to upstage the mighty Aussies, something India were well capable of, alas.

Having said that, we must also exercise caution and not bracket Renuka Singh as a great already for she’s only just begun.

The path to nearing someone like Jhulan Goswami will be as lanky as Goswami’s physical presence on the pitch.

But in the era of slower ones, cutters and knuckles, India are fortunate to have found someone, who has the ability to swing the ball. What she did against the likes of Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning, and Beth Mooney was flawless. With Renuka Singh on the team, the Indian team’s future seems bright for the next few years or maybe even more. May that remain that way.

-edited by Dev Tyagi


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