Saturday, 22 September 2007

RP Singh: The Forgotten Hero

In the phalanx of India’s wobbly dobbers, he is the least visible. But think efficiency and you wonder at RP Singh’s amazing ability to escape attention.

He’s not the pin-up boy that Irfan Pathan is; the simpleton doesn’t break into a jig ala S(howman) Sreesanth. But as evident from India’s UK tour and the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup, RP does not lag when it comes to taking wicket, supposedly the primary responsibility of a bowler. The slogathon called Twenty20 World Cup has seen many a bowlers’ blood on the floor but RP not only escaped unscathed but also came through with flying colours.

Indeed, Rohit Sharma may have stolen the thunder – and the Man of the Match award – with his maiden (unbeaten) fifty in the do-or-die match against South Africa, but it’s actually RP to whom MS Dhoni owes a drink.

Defending a so-so total of 153, few gave India a chance but RP clearly had other ideas. He trapped Herschelle Gibbs and removed Graeme Smith in his first over to trigger a collapse which the hosts could not recover from. The left-arm seamer then crashed one through Shaun Pollock’s gate and then removed Albie Morkel, the joint topscorer, to tilt the match and writing was clear on the wall by then for Smith.

You can’t take anything away from Rohit Sharma’s knock but you don’t need to be a pundit either to realize that it was RP’s 4-0-13-0 figure that won the match. But then, cricket has always been a step mother to the bowlers’ tribe and Rohit bagged the MoM award.

There was enough evidence that RP has mastered the art of creating difficult angles that poses all sort of uncomfortable questions to the batsmen. He has this natural flair for swinging the ball both ways and right-handers often found themselves at sea against the one which he brings into them.

RP benefited from his apprenticeship under Zaheer Khan whose prodigious swing had the English batting order in serious nervous disorder in the Test series. as a result, RP arrived a much improved bowler in South Africa and the results are before us to see.

In the Indian pace attack, RP stands out because of his reticent approach to cricket. It’s not that he is low on adrenalin or tends to cower behind the sandbags. But the soft-spoken UP lad prefers to let his ball do the talking. He prefers swing to swears, yorkers to yelling and slower to sledge, which is just perfect with the spirit of the game.

With Irfan Pathan doing little to warrant a comeback and an erratic Sreesanth hardly looking bankable, RP has emerged as a vital cog in the Indian pace attack. And provided the focus is there, RP is definitely here to stay.

Image: AFP

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