In what will be remembered as a popular performance, Rinku Singh was the star of the show as Kolkata Knight Riders defeated Rajasthan Royals and returned to winning ways in Indian Premier League 2022 on Monday.
The left-hander from Aligarh, UP – who has been around the KKR franchise for a while now and has a cult following among their fans – struck an unbeaten 42 off 23 to guide KKR home along with Nitish Rana.
Even when he is not playing, Rinku is often seen speaking in team huddles, delivering the pep talks. When he got on as a substitute fielder too, his energy is unmistakeable. Off the field, he has clearly found a special place in the franchise having spent some time with them over the years.
In 2022, he is slowly starting to make it count with his performances on the field.
Having got scores of 35 and 23 in the previous two games against Gujarat Titans and Delhi Capitals respectively, Rinku was confident from the get-go against RR and struck six fours and a six in his knock. In what could have been a tricky run-chase, especially for a side that has struggled to close things out and on a five-match losing streak, but Rinku’s innings was one of superb quality from the moment he walked out to bat. He kept finding the gaps, kept the scoring rate high and in the end, took his side home.
The 24-year-old had been acquired by KKR in 2018 for Rs 80 lakh and retained by the franchise in the IPL 2022 mega auction for Rs 55 lakh. He always had potential as a batter, and is a gun fielder too, but has only gotten to play 13 matches so far in his IPL career. In the 2021-’22 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, Rinku scored 187 runs in five matches for Uttar Pradesh at a strike-rate of 146.09.
“A lot of players have played Ranji Trophy from Aligarh, but I am the first to play the IPL,” said Rinku after being adjudged the player of the match for his knock against Rajasthan.
“This is big league and there is a lot of pressure obviously. I have been waiting for the last five years to get a chance. I worked very hard, came back from injury and did well in the domestic circuit as well. When I was batting, bhaiya (Rana) and Baz (coach Brendon McCullum) told me to stay till the end and finish it.”
In a chat with Rana on iplt20.com, Rinku said he was confident of doing well in the match against Rajasthan on Monday.
“I had a feeling from this morning that I will win the player of the match award and score runs for my team,” said Rinku. “So I wrote ‘50 not out’ on my hand. I was waiting for my opportunity for quite some time. I’ve been with KKR for five years, I’d get a game or two and didn’t get runs and even got dropped. But I never stopped working hard. I used to keep thinking that I’ll do well whenever I get a chance and make my team win.”
For a hugely energetic player, just the sheer calmness stood out in his finish as even captain Shreyas Iyer pointed out after the match.
“He (Rinku) his an amazing story,” McCullum said after the match. “He has been in the franchise for a long period of time. Before the first game he played this season, I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time with him. And he mentioned that he knew for his self worth and career he needed to make a statement in this competition. And he was able to do it in the first game. He’s such a great team man, he’s a wonderful human being, and the vibe and culture of our group is set by Rinku. Rana was out in the middle and that gave him a lot of confidence in his company. There are some players who deserve things to go their way and Rinku is certainly one of them.”
Here’s a video from 2021 where Rinku reflects on his inspiring cricketing journey:
Here are some reactions to Rinku’s fine knock against RR at the Wankhede: