Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh are some of the bowlers produced by India during the early 2000s. Indian cricket never had the problem of producing a batsman, who could be very good, but when it came to bowling the choice was rather limited. Team India, after the infamous match-fixing saga, was at crossroads and the BCCI gave the captaincy to Sourav Ganguly and Ganguly built his own team with players from small towns and villages. RP Singh was from India’s most populous and (in)famous state Uttar Pradesh.
The tall and wiry lad had a rhythmical and beautiful action and had the ability to ball with pace and also swings the ball quite well. Singh, like many of his colleagues, majored his way to international cricket via under-19 route and Singh made ODI debut in 2005 against Zimbabwe even before turning 20, so he practically learned his game at the international level. Singh had an infectious smile and was a quick learner and was not afraid to ask questions and started his international career with a bang. After impressing Aussie Greg Chappell, Singh got his Test cap against Pakistan at Faisalabad and was named player of the match by bowling well on a belter (flat track), but this series was rather remembered for India losing the Test summit 1-0 and also certain publication coming up with the headline ‘Endulkar’.
From the vault: RP Singh’s five-wicket haul vs England, Lord’s, 2007
RP Singh was now reaching his peak form and with Zaheer Khan falling out with management and some injury issues, Singh was being looked at as the next leader of the attack. Singh had a very good tour of England and Wales in 2007, where India won in the UK 1-0 after 21 years and then was India’s stand out performer at ICC WorldT20 in South Africa, 2007, where India won the title under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But after highs came low and Singh started having self-doubts and also got injured at the wrong time. As Singh was making his comeback, he had lost his pace and nip and was told to go back to first-class cricket to rediscover his form. Not everyone can train like Virat Kohli, but you have to take care of your body and Singh was found wanting on his fitness and despite being very talented, the work ethic was clearly missing.
Singh suddenly received an India call up out of the blue while he was vacationing in the US, he was asked to play the fourth Test at The Oval against England in 2011 and he wasn’t ready. Singh was not match fit and his pace and intensity were not up to the mark and he became collateral damage of India losing 4-0, and sadly that was the last time he played Test cricket. Singh’s cause was not helped by his alleged proximity with then captain MS Dhoni, who in some instances had favoured him over other bowlers and this attracted quite a bad press for the lanky seamer.
RP Singh now plays for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy and is also a Hindi commentator and is without an IPL contract for quite some time. Singh’s career looks over at the age of 32 and it had quite a few memorable moments but plenty of moments of regrets and disappointments.
Singh picked up 40 wickets in Tests, 69 in ODIs and 15 in T20Is and would hope that if he gets a second chance things will be different, and he could really make amends and redeem himself.