Renuka Singh Thakur’s WhatsApp display photo is of a tattoo where a father is playing with his daughter. Renuka had signed it in memory of her late father, who passed away in 1999. Kehar Singh Thakur, who used to work in the irrigation and public health department of Himachal Pradesh in Rohru, died when Renuka was only three.
“The little she has achieved is dedicated to her father,” said Pawan Sen, coach of the Himachal Pradesh Women’s cricket team. Before going to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, Renuka had a long chat with her youth coach. Sen’s only advice to her was to do well in the first game.
“Maine usko bas itna kaha ki pehle match mein aisa perform karna ki saare match mey khelne ka mauka mila (perform well in the first match so you can play all matches in the tournament),” Sen told Indian Express from Dharamshala.
Australia is 4 down for 34 runs.
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) July 29, 2022
“When she was picked for the Over-50s World Cup, she couldn’t play a single game. She wanted to prove to the team management that she deserves a long rope; against Sri Lanka, she did very well in both the T20Is and ODIs, and now in the first match she has destroyed Australia’s top order. A solid effort indeed,” said Sen, who has trained Renuka for the past 14 years.
The 26-year-old sailor advanced through Australia’s top four in India’s Group A opener at Edgbaston, taking on Alyssa Healy (0), Beth Mooney (10), Captain Meg Lanning (8) and Tahlia McGrath (14) an impressive period of 4-0-18-4. Healy and Mooney were fired on good length deliveries and Lanning threw her wicket away for a short, wide one, but the wicket that pleased Sen most was McGrath’s.
“Inswing uska asli weapon hai, inswinging yorker kaafi achhagrensi hai, best hai country mein (Inswing is her real weapon and she has the best inswinging yorker in the country),” said Sen.
Sacrifice of mother and brother
Without her mother, Renuka would never have played cricket. Renuka’s mother Sunita joined the irrigation and public health department in 2000 as a Class IV worker, and as a youngster Renuka showed an interest in playing cricket on the village grounds with older brother Vinod.
“My husband loved cricket and had named our oldest son Vinod after his favorite cricketer Vinod Kambli. When he died due to an illness, it was a difficult time for our family as Renuka was only three years old. Although I got the job as a class IV worker instead of my husband, it also meant spending the day on Rohru.
“Renuka started playing with her brother Vinod on the village grounds and to see her claim all these wickets for India in the opening match against Australia is thanks to all the hard work from her all these years. She has proved that to all of us she is none other than Vinod Kambli,” an emotional Sunita told this newspaper from Rohru in Shimla district.
At the age of 14, Renuka first moved from her village of Parsa near Rohru to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association academy.
“HPCA started a residential cricket academy for girls in Kangra in 2009. She was very fit compared to other girls. Perhaps that was because she was from Rohru, a city at an altitude of about 1,600 meters. Since she was always interested in being a fast bowler, we initially had her run cross country twice a week to build up her stamina,” said Sen.
Sunita supported Renuka’s dream. But in doing so, she had to sacrifice her son’s dream. ‘Vinod was also a good cricketer. But her mother couldn’t afford it. You know how expensive cricket is. So she decided to support Renuka, and it worked out well for the family,” said Sen.
Renuka’s brother said she would travel with him to neighboring villages to play games. “Renuka always asked for the ball when she would accompany us to the village grounds and later when she started playing with us she was the only girl playing the morning and evening games. Sometimes we would travel to nearby villages and be late, but she would be happy to help the team win. She took two wickets in a local village competition and hit some huge sixes.
“Then my uncle Bhupinder Singh Thakur asked her to give trials for HPCA Academy in Dharamshala in 2009 and took her for the trials,” said Vinod, who is two years older than Renuka.
Sen says his department will not be happy with her performance after she got the cold shoulder from the selectors in 2019.
“It’s her nature. In the 2018-19 domestic One Day League she took 21 wickets but was not chosen for India. She was disappointed and that changed something in her. She is never satisfied with her performance. She always tries to improve in the next game,” said Sen.
Healy’s early wicket inspired confidence
With just 155 runs to defend for India, Renuka put Australia on the back foot on the second pitch of the first over when she rejected star goalkeeper batter Alyssa Healy for a silver duck, trapping her into the irresistible fourth stump line. to play. When asked by the Indian Express after Friday’s game in Edgbaston how big a boost that was, Renuka answered in the affirmative.
“Of course, because it was a big wicket,” she said. “We planned to bowl according to the field. My request of the same, instilled my confidence.”
Despite Renuka’s bowling in the early stages of the innings, the game slipped from India’s grasp even after pinning Australia at 110/7 with 45 runs left from 34 deliveries.
“The match was in our hands until the end. Actually we only have two pace bowlers in the team at the moment. The wicket is good for the fast bowlers. We missed Pooja (Vastrakar) today.”