“When We Were Losing…”: RCB Star Opens Up About Emotional Journey | Cricket News

Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) all-rounder Swapnil Singh, who entered the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the second half and made an immediate impact, opened up on his “emotional” cricketing journey that saw him experience numerous ups and downs and his relationship with star batter Virat Kohli.

RCB completed a remarkable turnaround from a horrid first half of the IPL 2024, which saw them win just one in eight games, to securing six successive games to reach the playoffs. In these six matches, Swapnil has played a crucial role with his small batting cameos, wicket-taking abilities and low economy rate. He has scored 28 runs across four innings at a strike rate of 164.70 and also got six wickets at an average of 19.00 and an economy rate of 8.76, with the best figures of 2/28.

Introducing himself to the audience, Swapnil said that though he was born in Lucknow, he has played for Baroda (2005-2020) and currently plays for Uttarakhand (2021-22 season onwards).

In 76 first-class matches, he has scored 2,727 runs at an average of 26.22, with two centuries and 16 fifties and taken 181 wickets. In 63 List-A games, Swapnil has made 1,153 runs at an average of 25.06, with six fifties and taken 67 wickets. In 81 T20s, he has made 877 runs with two fifties and got 69 wickets.

“My father was my first coach. I am playing cricket because of him. It was his passion to make me play that made this all possible. I was in class sixth when I shifted to Baroda for my cricket. He wanted me to become a batter. When I came to Baroda, I started to bowl. I made by Ranji debut at the age of 14 years and 355 days,” he recalled.

Recalling his bond with Virat, Swapnil said that he has played U15 and U19 level cricket with Virat and was his roommate during tours to Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

“When I met him after so many years, it felt so warm. We were meeting after so many years, asked each other about our lives and families. It felt really good,” he added.

Swapnil recalled being picked by Mumbai Indians (MI) in 2008 IPL, the first-ever season and making his debut in the league for Punjab Kings much later in 2017, playing four games.

“I was picked in 2008 for Mumbai Indians. Sachin (Tendulkar) is like a god to us all. When I met him and interacted with him for the first time ever, it felt good. My IPL ebut happened against CSK while playing for PBKS. Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) was my captain. I had taken just one wicket, of MS Dhoni, caught and bowled,” said Swapnil.

Later, Swapnil recalled one of his biggest career setbacks, being removed from Baroda side in 2020 despite his consistent performances as an all-rounder. The 33-year-old said that this proved to be a blessing in disguise for him as he learnt to stand on his feet. Former cricketer Irfan Pathan helped him in finding another state, Uttarakhand, to further his career.

“In 2016-17, played Duleep Trophy for Baroda, scoring the highest run for them and took a lot of wickets. In 2019, I was among top three all-rounders in India in white-ball cricket. Then came COVID-19. After this, Baroda selections were held. I felt I was a sure shot. But the captain told me that my place was not available in the team. It was given to a youngster. So I was searching for a new state to play. Irfan Pathan helped me. It was a blessing in disguise because when you are thrown out of your house, you learn to stand on your feet. Now I realise Baroda did good to me, otherwise I would have been finished,” said Swapnil.

Swapnil said that Deepak Hooda, the all-rounder from Baroda, is like a brother to him and it was he who contacted Swapnil and helped him make a comeback to IPL as a net bowler for Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) last year.

The all-rounder said that though coach Andy Flower and spin coach Narendra Hirwani were impressed with his bowling, he asked Andy for an opportunity to bat as well, which he got. His batting also impressed the coaching staff. He also played two matches for LSG.

He also said that when Andy moved to RCB as a coach, he urged the Zimbabwean to give him one more chance and he got to attend a camp organised for selecting new players. He also recalled that during the auctions, he had almost given up on himself untill his family informed him that he was picked by RCB.

“Deepak Hooda is like a brother to me. When he called me to become a net bowler for LSG, I cut the phone and abused him (laughs). He called me again to think about it. Irfan told me to go. I was like I have played in IPL myself. The concept of net bowler had started just then. I went hesitatingly. Coach Andy Flower was impressed with me. I was bowling from ball one till the last. Narendra Hirwani was impressed with me, he was our spin coach. He flipped me 180-degree as a bowler. I talked to Andy as to why he did not try me in batting. He also made me bat. GG bhai (Gautam Gambhir, then LSG mentor) was also there, they were impressed with batting too. Andy has a big role to play in all this,” said Swapnil.

“When RCB picked me up, they had conducted a trials-cum-camp. I asked Andy to give me one more chance, that could have also been my last. He invited me for the camp. The camp was average. When the auction was happening, I was travelling to Dehradun for Ranji Trophy. When I landed, it must be 7 or 8 PM, last rounds of the auction must have been going on. Nothing had happened. I had also missed it thinking that its over. I wanted to play this ongoing season and one more season if possible since I did not want to do this all my life. I was very disappointed. I thought there were other things to conquer. But then my family called me, and we just broke down. Nobody knows how emotional this journey has been for me,” he added.

Swapnil said that when he came here, he was well aware that he would get a chance to play only later. So to prove himself, he treated each and every net session he attended as a proper match before he got a chance to play.

“When we were losing, I thought fans would abuse us. But fans were not going down. It was shocking to me. I felt really good that fans are really loyal to us. I used to talk to my brother that I wanted to hit just a four and six in the IPL, since I have a wicket. I got to do that as well. On my seventh ball of my first over (in which he bowled a no ball), I got a wicket. It is all god’s work,” he concluded.

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