Rajasthan Royals (RR) has always been termed as the ‘underdog’, right from the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) back in 2008. They’ve had a few hiccups over the years too. However, if there’s one thing we have learnt from this franchise, it’s that they have the knack of prising out some of the best hidden talents from around the country, most of whom were not even heard of before.
No one will forget how they emerged champions in that inaugural season, led and mentored by Shane Warne. Coming into IPL 2019, the strategy was slightly different, with quite a few big price tag players being a part of the squad including Ben Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Krishnappa Gowtham and a few more. What hasn’t changed though is their ability to dig out players that aren’t exposed much to the limelight… until the hammer hits down at the IPL Auction!
One such player who was purchased by Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2019 Auction was Shashank Singh, a hard-hitting batting all-rounder hailing from Mumbai. The 27-year old had a base price of INR 20 Lakh in the latest auction and after a small tussle between Rajasthan and Kings XI Punjab, he was sold to Rajasthan for INR 30 Lakh.
In the build up to IPL 2019, Read Scoops caught up with quite a few cricketers including Akshdeep Nath, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Ruturaj Gaikwad and of course now, Shashank Singh. Looking out for better career options and a shift away from the Mumbai hustle-bustle, Singh moved to Pondicherry a year ago. We had to share this interesting career with our readers, so keep reading for the complete conversation with Singh, who was first picked by Delhi Daredevils in 2017, but is yet to make his IPL debut.
Shashank Singh social profiles🌐:
SHASHANK SINGH’s Exclusive Interview With Read Scoops:
Q. Hi Shashank. In your few years of professional cricket, what would you consider as the highlight moment of your career so far?
“Hello. I would say this moment was when I was first selected for the Mumbai T20 senior team, around 5 years back. It was in Cuttack, where I played an unbeaten innings of 65 in 23 balls. That’s when the Mumbai selectors first thought that ‘Yeah, this guy has some talent’, and they decided to give me more opportunities. This selection was easily the best moment of my career so far, as playing with the seniors like Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma was a completely different feeling. I always cherish that time and it will stay with me forever.”
Q. In the Mumbai T20 League (MPL) last year, you were purchased for INR 5L from a base price of INR 1L, which was the same price tag as that of Delhi Capitals captain, Shreyas Iyer. How would you rate yourself compared to a batsman like Iyer?
“As cricketers, we obviously don’t compare ourselves to each other. Shreyas Iyer is more established, he has played for India and he’s really doing well. Money is all fine, but your performances matter more. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between me and Iyer as batsmen, but he has always performed at the right place and right time, and in front of the right people. There were similar opportunities given to me where I should’ve performed better but I didn’t, so it all boils down to proving yourself at the right time. Iyer and me are really good friends and we’ve had good fun together. He’s doing well, captaining Delhi Capitals in IPL 2019 and I’m happy for him. However, I don’t think I should compare myself to any other cricketer. I’m enjoying my cricket, he’s enjoying his cricket. Bottom line is that it all depends on how mentally tough you are when you play at the bigger stage.”
Q. Last year, you also made the move from Mumbai to Pondicherry. What was the main reason behind this?
“When I planned the move from Mumbai to Pondicherry, the idea was to get better opportunities, which I wasn’t getting in Mumbai, even after 4-5 years of being with the senior team. The main reason was of course the competition. I am a top order batsman but the Mumbai top order had the likes of Iyer, Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane, with many other good batsmen like Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, and Shivam Dubey. I was getting to bat really low down in the order. Last year, I was with the Mumbai squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy where we reached the semi finals, but I didn’t get a single game in the 10-12 games we played. But I couldn’t complain because the team was playing very well and everyone was among the runs and/or wickets.”
“A cricketer’s career isn’t too long, where you can play till a maximum of around 37 or 38. Thinking I had only about 10 years of professional cricket left in me, I didn’t want to waste any further time and I thought I should move away to where I would get better opportunities to display my talent to the selectors and show them I’m capable of playing at the highest level. Hence, I decided to move to Pondicherry but I was extremely unlucky as the decision backfired…”
“Well, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) made a 1-year cooling period rule, which was the outcome of a miscommunication between me and the management. When I moved to Pondicherry, I thought I’d get to play the full season for them but it didn’t work out because of this rule that specifies the need to be in a particular state for a year before you get to play for them, for those who have changed states. I thought I’d do my Masters along with playing cricket, completed my admission to college, but I couldn’t play, as per this rule. I’m yet to make up my mind as to which state I will be playing for after IPL 2019, but it won’t be Mumbai for sure. For now, I’m happy giving my 100% focus only to the IPL. I’ve spent a lot of time on my fitness, batting, bowling, and fielding for this season, so I’ll make a decision on domestic cricket after IPL 2019.”
Q. Did you have any idea that Rajasthan wanted you for IPL 2019? Anything prior to the auction that you think improved your chances?
“Yes, honestly I did have an idea. Teams were following me in the Mumbai domestic circuit and they asked for my batting and bowling videos. Last year, it went well, scoring a 20-ball 60-odd score in the practice match. This year, I scored 70 in 14 balls. It was a practice match at DY Patil Stadium and I hit 10 sixes in those 14 balls. I don’t want to brag, but 70(14) is brilliant. It’s so unique. I knew that I had performed to the best of my ability and believed that I would get a chance this year in the IPL. The videos submitted to Kings XI Punjab were liked too, and that’s why they also placed a bid for me.”
Q. You first appeared in the IPL in 2017. What have you learnt so far from this amazing tournament?
“I believe that IPL is mainly a mental game and you need to be mentally tough. I haven’t made my debut yet, but I’ve learnt so much already, especially from my Delhi Daredevils coaches Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid, and I had a great time with them. It’s the same ball game as the lower levels, but you just have the be stronger mentally to handle the pressures of the bigger stage. The ball is going to come on the same way as it does in club matches, probably at a quicker speed though, lol. You just have to know how to stay calm and focussed.”
Q. Now that you’re in the Rajasthan Royals camp, who are the players you’re looking forward to learning from the most?
“Look at the RR team. There’s Ben Stokes and Steve Smith, and these guys are among the best in the world. Also, they’re such down-to-earth people, which makes it very easy to walk up to them and have a word regarding cricket and ask questions, which is a great thing. I’m a batting all-rounder and I get to learn so much from Stokes, who is one of the best ODI and T20 all-rounders. That’s what I’m going to try and take out of IPL 2019 . This is the best time for me and once the season is over, I want to be a better cricketer.”
Q. Any special preparations to ensure an IPL debut this year?
“I’ve worked on my batting, as there were quite a few places I was lacking. I had a lot of time since I wasn’t playing domestic cricket and I worked hard during this period. I’ve upped my fitness levels as well, along with working on my fielding. If you see our squad, we have so many potential match winners, so it’s going to be difficult to get game time this year, but I’ll keep working hard and hopefully, I’ll get my chance soon.”
Talk about working on his fielding! Check out this catch:
Q. What would you say is your biggest goal or dream as a cricketer?
“The long term goal is obviously wanting to play for Team India. However, I have some short term goals as well, because it has to be a step-by-step journey. I want to give my best in IPL 2019 and hopefully get matches in the next season, when I’m a more mature player. Also, whichever state I play for next, I want to get the best out of myself in the upcoming Ranji Trophy season.”
Q. With so much competition in our country, making a debut for India becomes really difficult. What’s the X-factor you possess? What’s your formula for success?
“Competitive cricket in India involves a lot of practice and patience, as sometimes, you may not get selected even after playing well. All you have to do is keep working hard, keep believing and wait for your time, which will come eventually. I’ve been playing professional cricket since the last 10 years but since the last 2 years, I’ve been more motivated and mentally tough. Someday, I’ll get my chance for sure.”
Q. Anything else you’d like to share for your fans and our viewers?
“There have been a few people who have really helped me along my career so far and one of them is my sister. She has been my pillar of strength, backing and motivating me whenever I’m down. When you play professional cricket, you’re not going to perform every day. There are going to be days when you get out for a duck or go for 20+ runs in an over, and on such days, my coaches, father, sister and other members of family have really helped out, so I really want to say a big THANK YOU to these guys. I also have a close friend Major Shivraj Deshmukh, a former cricketer and is now posted in the North East. I take a lot of positives from discussions about him coping with his profession, and all these small things help me in my game.”
Have a look at this for batting talent:
On behalf of the entire team at Read Scoops, I would like to use this platform to say thank you to Shashank Singh. He took some precious time out from this training schedule to speak with us. I wish him the best of luck for the ongoing IPL 2019 season, hoping to see him making an IPL debut soon and who knows, maybe one day an international debut as well!
– Dwayne Fernandes, Read Scoops