When Renuka Singh sums up her most recent performance in international cricket, you’d get the impression that she had a bad time on the field. “I could have bowled better,” Renuka says referring to her performance in the final of the Women’s Asia Cup at Sylhet last month. It’s hard to figure out exactly how she could have improved though. She had, in fact, taken three for five from three overs, helped India win the title, and was also named the player-of-the-match.
But it’s that determination to set the loftiest of standards, urge to improve constantly and refusal to sit on her laurels that has seen Renuka reach the level she has. Indeed just a year after she made her debut in international cricket, the 26-year-old has risen to the number 3 spot in the ICC’s ranking for T20I bowlers.
Truth be told, her upswing in fortunes came a bit later than it should have. She would probably have made her India debut a year earlier than she eventually did in the Indian tour of Australia in 2021, but her international start was delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Singh though believes it was probably a blessing in disguise. “I got time to work on my bowling and I became a better bowler by the time I made my international debut,” says Renuka, who is currently playing for India-D at the Senior Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy here, tells Sportsstar. She’s doing pretty well in the domestic matches with figures of 3/27 and 2/24 in her last couple of matches against India C and India B respectively.
She’s only extending the rich vein of form she’s enjoyed over the past year. It has been a fascinating journey for the girl from the village of Parsa near Rohru in Himachal Pradesh to the hallowed grounds of Lord’s in London. There in her last ODI she just fell one short (4/29) of fulfilling her dream to take a five wicket haul in the third ODI against England in September. Not many doubt the fact that she will eventually reach that milestone.
Renuka is modest about her talent. Instead she says how she is indebted to the many people who helped her. She credits her mother who looked after her and her brother after the untimely death of her father. She also thanks her coaches, and Anurag Singh Thakur, the Union Minister and former BCCI president who started a women’s cricket academy at Dharamshala.
“I probably wouldn’t have become a cricketer if he hadn’t taken that decision to form an academy,” she says. “There weren’t opportunities for girls to play cricket in a small State like Himachal Pradesh. At the academy, coach Pawan Sen molded me as a swing bowler, and I have benefited a lot from working with India’s coach Ramesh Powar, too.”
An admirer of Zaheer Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, she loves watching Test matches and is hoping to play in the format. And the female bowler that inspired her? “Harpreet Dhillon (of Punjab),” she says. Dhillon though talented, has yet to get a chance to play for India. Renuka though is expected to be a fixture in this Indian team for a while and she has the chance to cement a legacy that lasts a long time.