Indian Premier League 2010 March 11, 2010

RP Singh looks to retrace lost steps

N Hunter
If RP's body language today was any indication, he is taking the right steps to recovery. And, he has the entire team urging him on

RP Singh placed himself at the top of the pile as soon as Steve Smith, the Deccan Chargers' trainer, asked the players to line up in front of the skipping rope ladder lying on the ground. "Way to go RP, way to go," Smith exclaimed as RP hopped across the rope effortlessly. It was nine in the morning and the defending champions had just entered the Bandra Kurla cricket ground. Impressed and enthused by their team-mate's dynamism, the squad started to clap as Smith shouted out calls of encouragement. It was a positive move by the left-arm seamer in his bid to shore up his stock, which slipped after last year's IPL in South Africa, where he was the highest wicket-taker.

RP's fortunes have dipped and soared in conjunction with his team. In the IPL's inaugural season, Deccan struggled to take off from Adam Gilchrist's blistering century at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, now one of their home venues for the third season.

The team relied heavily on Gilchrist, who had to double up as the wicketkeeper and as captain for the last eight games after VVS Laxman suffered a wrist injury. Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi promised much but flopped and the bowling department, led by the left-arm pair of RP and Chaminda Vaas, was too predictable.

Part of the reason for RP's struggle in 2008 was that he was recovering from the leg injury picked up during the Adelaide Test, a few months before the IPL. As a result, he'd be taken off the attack by Laxman as soon as he went for runs in the Powerplay and would return at the death, when the batsmen were in full flow. He ended the season as the team's leading wicket-taker (15) but had clearly lost all confidence, if not that trademark smile.

A year later, that smile would grow wider when the tournament moved to South Africa.

Though RP burst onto the national scene on the back of a terrific domestic performance in 2004, his debut year, numbers clearly highlight his favoured surface. In the absence of a conclusive Twenty20 sample, refer to RP's performances, home and away, in the ODIs. He has played 34 matches abroad, bagging 44 wickets at an average of 30. 7, while at home he has 21 wickets in as many matches at 40.80 runs each. Even his strike-rate at home (42.3) is more than the 35.2 outside India even if there isn't a big difference in the economy rate - 5.77 on the home front compared to the 5.23 outside.

Little wonder then, the faster pitches in South Africa, aided by the colder weather, helped RP capitalise on his two major weapons - swing and bounce - converting him instantly into a dangerous prospect. It was evident that RP preferred the gripping surfaces in South Africa as opposed to the slow, low and flat ones in the subcontinent.

Also, this time around he was hungrier, after the national selectors had lost faith in him during the Australia Test series in 2008, even when the Indian captain MS Dhoni publicly backed him. It also helped to have the blistering pace of Fidel Edwards and the consistency of Ryan Harris to ease his nerves at the other end.

But RP did not do himself any favours when he got a second opportunity, after the IPL. During the ICC World Twenty20 in England last year and then in the Champions Trophy in South Africa, he failed to impress, only to prove the selectors were correct in their assessment. His pace had slackened, his rhythm wavered as he resembled Britney Spears making another failed comeback.

This year, though, RP can correct two wrongs in one stroke if he can manage to inspire himself and work hard in the company of the Australian pair of Gilchrist and Darren Lehmann, Deccan's head coach.

"He is not without success in these conditions, having been the leading wicket-taker in the first year and then winning the Purple Cap last year," Gilchrist said. RP, he said, should not be too bothered about regaining his place in the Indian team for the moment. "He is more experienced and the Indian squad has a very, very competitive bunch of seam bowlers so there is competition for places there. But I don't think he should be too disheartened about not being in that team for the moment. He is one of the number of bowlers we would be looking to make an impression."

If RP's body language today was any indication, he is taking the right steps to recovery. And he has the entire team urging him on.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Saif on March 12, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    Answer to Amit Bhatnagar's question, why Indian bowlers lose pace and confidence...DON'T SEND THEM TO MRF PACE ACADEMY. They did it with many like Munaf, Ishant and Many more... ;-)

  • Bunty on March 12, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    In the series of 2007-8 when the Kumble-led team competed very well with the Aussies one of the main bowlers then was RP as well as when India beat England in 2007 he was one of the main bowlers along with Zaheer. I think at that time RP Singh had credited his trainer at the English county he had played in 2006 season for working on his hip and abdomen muscles which had helped him pivot better and as a result increased speed . Not sure if he has reverted back to old habits .It is really incredible that how our medium pacers seem to be one trick pony. Bowling as in batting at international level is about adapting and sharpening all the time. This attribute seems to be lost mostly .Look at Ishant - a lanky bolwer with a high action and good speed .Where is he now after 3 years of cricket ? Actually he has regressed not progressed.

  • Anil on March 12, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    RP is a good bowler and such is this game that any player, be it a batsman, bowler or a fielder can have some uncomfortable periods of bad form. The reason why RP suffers in comparison to other bowlers is that he is inconsistent. This may be because he experiments too much with his bowling. If he sticks to the basics, he has good pace and swing to be back with a bang.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2010, 9:57 GMT

    show us what you got be ready for a hiding today knight riders will put you all across the park

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    RP in India is totally waste... He will be trashed all over the park. Just wait and see.

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    I saw RP bowling in one of the domestic tournaments recently. There was no zip, no swing, and at speeds of 120 kmph, one wonders from where can he retrace his lost steps. Its a riddle which I cannot solve - why are Indian medium pace bowlers reduced to trundlers after 1-2 years in international cricket?? Come on man, even I can play bowlers who bowl at 120 kmph, lets not even think of what will happen when such stuff is dished out to international batsmen!!

  • Manasvi on March 11, 2010, 17:00 GMT

    The first World T20 cup was his high point. I don't believe that RP has the consistency to become a good Test bowler or even a good ODI bowler but he can still play for India in the T20 games. For that, he needs to discover his speed, his swing and bounce, and the fll length near-yorkers that he bowled at will during IPL 2 and in the world T20.

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    To me he is in best rhythm when he doesnt try to slow down his speed and bowls his normal speed of 136KMH+. He tries way too many Slow balls and Slower speed balls which are harder to hit in T20 game but in that process he lost his rhythm. All Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Irfan Pathan were in their primes before IPL Season 1 started. Getting Hammered for straight 14-16 T20 matches definitely will shake your confidence. If I were a captain, I would rotate them to bowl in the middle overs to gain confidence and from there on see how it goes and whether he should give them to bowl Opening and Death Spell.

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