The incredible journey of India’s pacer Renuka Singh Thakur

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It was a routine day for medium-pacer Renuka Singh Thakur last Thursday until wishes and calls started coming when she was confirmed for the upcoming tour to New Zealand as well as for the Women’s ODI World Cup.

Thakur hails from Parsa, a rural area of Rohru, 325 km away from Dharamshala.

Kehar Singh, Thakur’s father- a big fan of the sport- had named her eldest brother as Vinod.

Bhupinder Singh Thakur, her uncle, saw her love of cricket and her potential to become one, seeing her playing with the neighborhood boys and urged all the family members to get Renuka admitted to HPCA’s women’s residential academy started by Anurag Singh Thakur.

If he hadn’t seen me play then, I probably wouldn’t be here.

said Renuka to TNIE.

But, it took her two years’ time for selection at the senior level.

I took a couple of years to learn the game better.

she said.

Since then, she has been evolving as a pacer step-by-step. She took 21 wickets in the Challenger Trophy season of 2018-19 and was selected for India-A to play a tour in Australia.

But her biggest time came in 2021. She acquired a position with the Northern Railways and then started playing for the Railways in the Senior One Day tournament. After that, she made her debut for India against Australia in the T20s.

She credited her former coach/trainer Pawan Sen for teaching her and backing her up a lot.

Pawan Sen taught me a lot and backed 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 have put in a lot of effort and it is all showing in my performances.

Nooshin Al Khadeer, former India player and head coach of Railways also lauded Renuka for her brilliant performances.

When I first saw her in 2018, she looked a little inconsistent. But you can’t write off players like that. She was someone who needed to be backed and invested in.

Adding further, she said,

She’s very different from other bowlers. Her aggression is her calmness. She understands things, doesn’t get rattled when hit for a boundary, because she knows she can make a comeback.

Renuka shattered the batting lineup of Karnataka in the final of the tournament and successfully scalped 4 wickets.

We have a thing going in our dressing room where I challenge players to score a hundred or take a fifer and then reward them. She took it up as a challenge in the final.

Both Nooshin and Renuka reiterate the fact that the latter has many positives up her sleeve.

She has a good inswinger, yorker, is really good in the death overs. She doesn’t go into a shell after a bad game, she is raring to go for the next one. We may discuss and plan things, but she has the skill to do it.

Nooshin also feels that Renuka might come as a surprise package to New Zealand as her bowling is not much known in the international circuit.

New Zealand conditions help the medium-pacer. She swings the ball in, she is consistent, she’s pretty confident of her skills. She is going to make a difference.

But, Renuka is right now enjoying the news and the moment with her mother, Sunita Thakur as it has just been a couple of days.

She was really happy when she got the news.

said the medium-pacer.

Adding further, she said,

The most special thing for me is my mom’s smile. She wanted to fulfill my father’s dream that at least one of his children play for India. As a single mother, she has struggled 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 and make the most of every opportunity I get and help the team win the World Cup.

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