Express News Service
CHENNAI: Last Thursday was just another morning for Renuku Singh Thakur as she performed her routines, training at Una. Except it’s not. When her phone started buzzing around 10 in the morning, the day turned upside down. Wishes began to arrive from all over Himachal Pradesh after Pacer was included in the 15-member team selected by the BCCI for the upcoming tour of New Zealand and the ODI Women’s World Championship to follow.
Originally from the small village of Parsa, in Rohru, over 325 km from Dharamshala, Renuka lost her father – Kehar Singh, an ardent cricket fan who named his eldest son after Vinod Kambli – at the age of three.
Her uncle, Bhupinder Singh Thakur, saw her playing next door to the boys and invited the family to send Renuku to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s Women’s Residential Academy in Dharamshala, launched by current Minister of Youth and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur.
“If he hadn’t seen me play then, I probably wouldn’t have been here,” the 25-year-old told the daily. Despite joining the academy at the age of 15, it took Renuki two years to make his Himachal debut. “It took me a few years to learn the game better,” she says. Renuka has worked with Pawan Sen at the HPCA over the years to hone her skills.
Since then, Pacer has made rapid strides in the home circle. Her 21-pass season in 2018-19 led to the Challenger Trophy selection that year, followed by India’s invitation to tour Australia.
But a big turnaround happened in 2021. Renuka got a job at the Northern Railways and was chosen to play for the Railways at the Senior One Day Tournament. It earned its first T20I call in August and debuted in India in the shortest format in Australia.
Renuka followed suit with some impressive appearances in the Senior One Day Trophy – nine goals in five matches, including a four-pointer against Karnataka in the final – and Senior Challengers, winning both titles with the Railways and India A, respectively. Paying tribute to Sen for working with her in her early years, Renuka said: “Pawan Sen taught me a lot and supported me in my early years. For the last couple of years I have moved to Una and worked with my personal trainer Jarnail Singh. We put a lot of effort and that can now be seen in my performances. “
Praising her growth in recent years, Nooshin Al Khadeer, former Indian cricketer and coach of Railways and India A at Challengers 2021, said: “When I first saw her in 2018, she looked a little inconsistent. But you can’t write off such players. She was someone to be invested in and supported. ”
“She is very different from other bowlers. Her aggression is her calmness. She understands things, she doesn’t get annoyed when she hits him for the border, because she knows she can come back, “said Nooshin, recalling the Senior One Day final in Bengaluru.
On a rainy day, Renuka ran through Karnataka’s top row, taking four passes into her first four overs. “We have something in our locker room where I challenge players to score a hundred or take a fifer and then reward them. She accepted it as a challenge in the final. “
Renuka’s greatest strength is her self-confidence and street wit – both Pacer and Nooshin repeat it. While that doesn’t mean talking less about her skills, Nooshin believes the pacemaker’s confidence adds tremendous value to her skills.
“She has a good insinger, a yorker, she’s really good at death. She doesn’t get into the shell after a bad game, she rarely goes to the next one. We can discuss and plan things, but she has the skill to do it, ”says Nooshin.
For example, Renuka explains how she placed Karnataka skipper Veda Krishnamurthy in the final. “Main inswinger hoon, aur woh inswing accha khelti hai … Maine decides kiya tha halka outswinger dalun (I play good delivery inswing, but she plays them well. So I decided bowl outswing delivery),” she says.
And it worked. After taking two wickets with an insinger, she surprised the veteran striker by going over the crease and delivering the outswinger on the very first interception, which Veda led to the goalkeeper.
Asked what role she could play in the World Cup, the Railway coach said that Renuka could be a surprise package because few people know about her in the international circle. “Conditions in New Zealand are helping at medium speed. She swings the ball, she is consistent, she is pretty confident in her skills. She will make a difference, ”Nooshin added.
But Renuka hadn’t thought about any of it yet. It’s only been a few days and news is still arriving as she enjoys the moment with her mother, Sunita Thakur. “She was very happy when she got the news,” Renuka said.
“My mom’s smile is most special to me. She wanted to fulfill my father’s dream of at least one of his children playing for India. As a single mother, she fought and sacrificed so much for me to get here, and I just want to do something for India that makes her smile and be proud of me. I will try to take every opportunity I get and help the team win the World Cup, “she signed.