A small two-room quarters within the premises of an LPG distribution company’s storage compound near Aligarh stadium has become the talk of the town. It’s the house of Rinku Singh, an all-rounder from Uttar Pradesh who has been picked by Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL auction held on Sunday.
Rinku’s father Khanchandra delivers LPG cylinders to homes, an elder brother drives an autorickshaw while another brother works in a coaching centre. It’s the stuff of IPL dreams — rags to riches story that we hear from time to time. Rinku was bought by KKR for Rs 80 lakhs after a pitched battle with Mumbai Indians, who too seemed intent on getting the 20-year-old all-rounder.
When the two big franchises were fighting for him, Rinku was at his home, watching the dream unfold live on the telly.
“Socha tha 20 lakh mein jaoonga, (thought I would get 20 lakhs), but I was picked up for 80! The first thought that came to the mind was that I can contribute in my big brother’s wedding, and save up something for my sister’s wedding too. Aur ek achhe se ghar mein shift ho jaoonga.”
The third of five siblings, Rinku has seen some tough times. Three years ago, his family was in a debt of Rs five lakhs, and struggling to pay back. It was beyond the means of the money-earners in the family, and Rinku wasn’t academically good – “Ninth fail” he says. He knew his only chance lay in cricket.
He saved up his modest daily allowances received while representing the UP Under-19 team, and other representation money from cricket. It all went in repaying the debts. Two years ago, he was in the reckoning for the India U19 side, but Rinku couldn’t make the cut for the ICC U19 World Cup.
“Father used to earn some Rs 6-7 thousand monthly, as was the elder brother. My family is a bit big and I had no option other than to focus hard on cricket. Life mein struggle bahut kiya, may be God is repaying for those days,” he says.
Rinku’s family too started believing him when he won a motorcycle after bagging the man-of-the-series award in a tournament in Delhi. The motorcycle was soon put to use to deliver his father’s cylinders across Aligarh.
Not that things turned overnight after that. Once he asked his brother to help him find a job. “He took me to a place where they asked me to be a domestic worker — saaf, safaai aur pochaa maarna (sweeping and mopping). I came back home and told my morther, ‘I will not go again. Let me just try my luck in cricket.”
In nine Ranji Trophy games, Rinku has scored 692 runs with an average of 49. He was getting noticed. Last year, Kings XI Punjab had roped him in, but he ended up warming the bench. Then luck turned again when Mumbai Indians called him for a selection trial where he slammed a 31-ball 91 runs.
“I think that knock made an impact. My domestic season had gone fine and I was hoping that someone might take me but never thought I will go for such a huge money. Mere khaandan mein itna paisa kisene bhi nahi dekha hai (No one in my clan has seen so much money),” he adds.