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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

All over for Sukhwinder Tinku after dream over to Brian Lara

The former pacer, who has coached Shubman Gill, opened India's bowling in 1988 Youth World Cup but played only one match for Punjab.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
Updated: February 9, 2022 2:53:31 pm
After the World Cup, Tinku was among 12 pacers chosen to train at the MRF Pace Foundation. (Express Photo)

PART 6: Sukhwinder Singh Tinku still remembers his over to the West Indies captain during the inaugural Youth World Cup in the Australian town of Merbein in 1988. Tinku, a right-arm pacer, says he struck him on the pads for three consecutive deliveries before finding the outside edge, only for the catch to be dropped. Though Tinku’s seven wickets in the tournament included that of England skipper Mike Atherton, his favourite memory remains that over.

“His bat-swing was very fast,” recalls Tinku. “I bowled outswingers and though the ball hit his pads, I feared that if he connected, it would land in the stands. He edged the fourth ball, an inswinger, to the slips but the catch was dropped. It was only after 2-3 years — when I saw him playing for the West Indies senior team — that I got to know he was Brian Lara.”

Tinku, the son of a contractor, played just one Ranji Trophy match for Punjab. But he played all seven of India’s matches in the World Cup, and shared the new ball with Subroto Banerjee.

“Going to Australia was like a fairytale for all of us. Once some players, including Aaqib Javed, pretended to be Punjabi speaking boys from Delhi and told me they had met me before in Delhi. Later, some of my team-mates told me they were actually from Pakistan!”

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After the World Cup, Tinku was among 12 pacers chosen to train at the MRF Pace Foundation. Later, he was picked — along with Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad — to train for six months in Australia under Dennis Lillee. “We would all observe Lillee sir and discuss his action,” he remembers.

He was then picked for India A but days before he could play, he dislocated his left knee joint while training. It put him out of cricket for more than two years.

“Many doctors told me I could never play cricket. Spending two years at home was the toughest phase of my life but I came back. I was the highest wicket-taker in the Punjab inter-district tournament but again, a day before a Ranji match, I reinjured my knee and that was the end of my professional career.”

Tinku played for the Punjab electricity department — he joined as a foreman in 1995 — before becoming a coach. In the last two decades, Tinku has coached players such as Shubman Gill, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat Mann, Sunny Sohal, who played for USA, and Simi Singh, who plays for Ireland.

“Had I played for India, I would have been only one international cricketer. But this role of coach has allowed me to give many international and national-level cricketers to the game. When a player tells me of his selection in any district or state or national team, it’s my biggest reward. Cricket taught me to never give up.

“Nowadays, junior cricketers get so much exposure and also get platforms like the IPL and the U-19 World Cup. My advice to them is to keep dreaming and aiming big. Hard work is the only key.”

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