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Javagal Srinath’s tip made the difference, says Pankaj

Rajasthan today lost to Mumbai narrowly by two runs at Jhalawar in their Ranji Trophy encounter, with Pankaj Singh stranded on 10.

Written by Swarupkarpurkayastha | Ahmedabad |
December 13, 2007 12:38:33 am

Rajasthan today lost to Mumbai narrowly by two runs at Jhalawar in their Ranji Trophy encounter, with Pankaj Singh stranded on 10. His 6-wicket match haul also went in vain.

But in another close battle — a bigger one perhaps — the lanky pacer pipped the likes of Munaf Patel and VRV Singh to earn a place in the Indian team for the Australian tour.

“It’s a blessing from God and from my mamma,” said the elated 22-year-old, who lost his mother in February 2004. He has been rewarded for his first class performance — he debuted in 2004-05 and has 73 wickets from 23 matches. One would surely not miss his 19 wickets earlier this season for India A during the twin tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya.

“I am at my peak now. I will focus on maintaining length as the tracks there will be bouncy. I hope to use my out-swingers and in-cutters effectively. Let’s see what I gain from there,” Pankaj said over the phone.

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The six-feet-five-inch pacer has been spearheading Rajasthan’s attack and was instrumental in promoting the team from the Plate to the Elite Group with 21 wickets in 2006.

“Along with Ajay Jadeja (the then Rajasthan skipper), he played a crucial role in taking the team to the Elite level,” said Pankaj’s brother Lalit Singh.

The right-arm pacer remembered those who helped him reach this far. “My mamma, dad, brother and my friends have been very supportive. There are others, including Javagal Srinath, who have guided me at various stages. Without them, I would not have reached here,” Pankaj said, his voice breaking with emotion.

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During his stint at the MRF Pace Academy in 2002-03, Srinath had given him tips. “He asked me to not just bowl at nets, but create a match ambience in my mind. That helped,” he said.

The news of Pankaj’s inclusion in the Indian squad sparked off celebrations at his home town Amethi. “My father is very happy. There is a festive mood at home now. We have been waiting for this day. It has been our mother’s dream. Pankaj was very close to her. After her death, he was devastated and stayed at home for a couple of months,” said Lalit.

Pankaj Singh

Age: 22

Height: 6.5 ft

Right-arm medium fast bowler, strengths: out-swingers, in-cutters

First-class performance73 wickets in 23 matches

Best: 6/65 against Orissa in 2005-06 Ranji Plate Group semi-final For India A 21 wickets from 4 four-day games and 5 one-dayers, against Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa

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First published on: 13-12-2007 at 12:38:33 am

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