'They told me to treat it like a one-dayer' - RP Singh
Around 20 years ago, a left-arm seamer called Rudra Pratap Singh played his first and penultimate one-day game for India. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, he was one of the several new-ball bowlers who were tried out in the mid '80s, when India were almost obsessed with choosing medium-pace over spin, but ended with a lone international wicket and failed to make the Test grade. In a queer parallel, another Rudra Pratap Singh, also from Uttar Pradesh, also a left-arm seamer and also a consistent domestic performer, turned out for India. However, this was a Test and RP made it a memorable debut to boot.
RP Singh's selection made the headlines primarily because of the man whom he replaced but he carved a niche of his own with a diligent effort. Dennis Lillie, who bowled on this ground around 25 years back, had termed the pitch as a "graveyard for bowlers" and it appears to have retained its character over the years. Having being given the new ball on his debut, RP Singh induced a chance in his very first delivery, only to see a thick edge fly through Anil Kumble's outstretched hands at gully. "I just treated it like a normal ball," he said when asked about what he had thought before the big moment. "I didn't try anything different. I always try to maintain a disciplined line and that is exactly what I was attempting right through."
He revealed that he had been told about his selection on the morning of the game, and acknowledged his team-mates for helping him cope with the nervousness. "We were told to be prepared before every game and I found out that I was playing in the morning. I got a lot of advise from the fielders and they told me to treat it like a one-dayer, maintaining an off stump line. That released the pressure. I needed to bowl to a disciplined line and the results followed."
He's not the sort of bowler who will have jaws dropping but the ability to persist with a certain length, to worry only about hitting the right areas, and to weather a torrential run-glut make him a valuable asset. He said he wasn't too intimidated to bowl to a "great batsman" like Inzamam-ul-Haq adding, "my job was to keep a disciplined line. I did not think of anything else. I think four wickets on this track is a good performance."
He revealed that making one's debut against Pakistan was a "special feeling" and added that he had hoped for a chance on this tour. "I didn't get a chance against Sri Lanka and was hopeful of playing here," he added. "The conditions are the same here and playing here is a different sort of feeling." It was interesting to see Dean Jones getting excited about RP Singh and praising his accuracy. Jones probably remembers his dismissal in a one-dayer at Rajkot in 1986, when another Rudra Pratap Singh snapped him up to get his only international wicket.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo