In-form Rajwinder makes impressive start to season

In-form Rajwinder makes impressive start to season

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LEFT-arm spinner Rajwinder Singh spent the last Ranji season on the bench but when he replaced medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma in the playing XI and got the chance in the recent game against Mumbai,he wasn’t willing to let it go. Even though Punjab lost the game,Rajwinder made a rousing comeback to the state side,picking up seven wickets. On a spin-friendly pitch at Sector 16 Stadium,where the spinners dominated on all the four days,Rajwinder even overshadowed Punjab skipper and Test discard Harbhajan Singh with his performance. Not only he finished with his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket,he even used the long handle to good effect while chasing Mumbai’s mammoth target of 399 runs,and was the third highest scorer in the second innings for Punjab with 31 runs,pushing the Punjab’s total past the 200-run mark.

Rajwinder knew he had to come up with something out of the ordinary to cement his place in the side and for this he began working on his bowling in the off-season with his coach,Munish Bali. The reward: a 37-wicket haul in the Katoch Shield,and since then the selectors have not overlooked him.

Speaking with Sportline,Rajwinder said,“In last few years I was bowling a bit quicker. In fact my aim was to stop the batsmen from scoring runs. Bali Paaji then told me that I needed to give more flight to the ball and go for wickets. In order to re-work on my bowling,I sweated in the off-season with him. I bowled a lot of overs everyday in the nets and gave more flight to the deliveries against the batsmen. Apart from that I worked on giving variations to my deliveries to become more effective. And when the Katoch Shield Trophy happened,it was time for me to put on display what I had learnt in the off-season. Fortunately,it worked out well for me and helped me regain my confidence.” Rajwinder followed up his Katoch Shield performance by performing well in the JP Atray tournament,bagging 12 wickets for Punjab Cricket Club.

Rajwinder lived in the village Jogipur near Patiala when the cricket bug bit him. He followed his cousin who used to play cricket in the village fields. His parents admitted him to a school in Patiala so that he could pursue cricket. Though he started as a medium-pacer,he switched to spin bowling due to his short height and thin build.

Talking about the game against Mumbai,he said,“Mumbai played quite well against us. The wicket was a turning one,but they managed to score a good total batting first. I was greatly helped by Bhajji and Yuvi Paaji during the match. Both told me where to bowl to a player like Wasim Jaffer. I gained a lot of confidence as the match progressed. I wish to keep bowling like this and get more wickets for my team in the tournament.” Rajwinder bowled the maximum overs in the match and took two and five wickets in the first and second innings respectively.Even though Rajwinder is in good form,he may have to wait for his chance as the next game will be played at the PCA Stadium and conditions there are more suitable for quick bowlers. “I can wait for the chances. Whenever I will get the chances I will grab with both hands and deliver the goods. I know my strength,and will be focused on them,” added 24-year-old Rajwinder,who has played six Ranji matches.