Home > Features > Facts and figures >

Pankaj Singh continues to be ignored despite phenomenal track record in domestic cricket

Pankaj Singh continues to be ignored despite phenomenal track record in domestic cricket

Despite encouraging performances at the domestic level, Pankaj Singh hasn’t been included in even the India A sides © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Indian cricket is replete with examples of titans  at the domestic level who didn’t get on to don the India cap — KP Bhaskar, Amol Muzumdar, Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel being strong cases in point. Then, there is someone like a Wasim Jaffer who has been scoring tons of runs after being axed and yet continues to be ignored by the national selectors. And now there is Pankaj Singh, another tried and tested performer, who isn’t getting his due at the highest level. 
 
The tall seamer from Rajasthan has been toiling in domestic cricket for years and yet the opportunity to play for India evades him. Here is a bowler who has taken 149 wickets in the last four seasons in Indian domestic cricket – a mark of remarkable consistency and discipline. Those performances have helped Rajasthan – once languishing in the erstwhile Plate League in the Ranji Trophy – to raise the bar and even clinch the coveted title twice. However, somewhere Pankaj has escaped the vision of the selectors; or have they turned a blind eye towards him?
 
The tally of 149 wickets does form a decent picture of his success, but one gets a better understanding on examination of his season wise break-up. Here is what he has done in domestic cricket since the 2009-10 season:

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 6 32 19.93 2 1
2010-11 11 53 23.56 4 1
2011-12 11 35 30.97 2 0
2012-13 7 29 24.75 3 0

 
A true reflection of Pankaj’s hard work is the “average” column. Apart from the 2011-12 season, he has averaged below 25 in the three others. Even when he did average over 30, his performance was crucial to Rajasthan’s title triumph. The 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons have been highlighted as those were the years Rajasthan emerged victorious in the Ranji Trophy.
 
In recent times, the Indian selectors have tried out various fast bowlers at the highest level. Some of them have risen through the ranks after good performances for the India A side. Pankaj was handed a maiden call-up during India’s tour to Australia in 2007-08. On that tour, he was given two games — both practice matches — and was discarded immediately thereafter. The second call-up came when India toured Zimbabwe for a one-day series in 2010, where he got his only international cap.
 
The interesting thing is that despite encouraging performances at the domestic level, Pankaj hasn’t been included in the India A sides. The most stunning exclusion came after the 2010-11 season as he wasn’t considered for the Emerging Players Tournament Down Under. It was shocking to find that a bowler who picked more than 50 wickets in the season wasn’t picked.
 
 
Other fast bowlers India tried out since 2009-10
 
Let us compare Pankaj’s performances with the fast bowlers who have made their Test debuts for India after the 2009-10 season. The men in question are: Abhimanyu Mithun, Jaydev Unadkat, Praveen Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and R Vinay Kumar. The perfect parameter to measure would be their season wise break-up in First-Class cricket since 2009-10.
 
Abhimanyu Mithun
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 10 52 23.26 3 1
2010-11 10 31 30.25 1 0
2011-12 4 14 29.42 0 0
2012-13 8 27 31.03 1 0

 

Jaydev Unadkat
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 Did not play      
2010-11 7 20 43.70 0 0
2011-12 7 26 27.03 2 0
2012-13 11 20 41.30 0 0

 

Praveen Kumar
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 5 22 21.27 2 0
2010-11 1 6 20.50 1 0
2011-12 1 2 36.50 0 0
2012-13 3 8 33.25 0 0

 

Umesh Yadav
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 6 16 29.12 1 0
2010-11 8 23 33.52 1 0
2011-12 3* 13 22.00 0 0
2012-13 3* 16 17.75 2 0

 
*includes Test matches
 

Varun Aaron
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 4 8 38.12 0 0
2010-11 5 13 32.53 1 0
2011-12 2* 4 61.50 0 0

 
*includes a test match
 

R Vinay Kumar
 

Season M Wkts Avg 5WI 10WM
2009-10 9 53 19.96 3 1
2010-11 8 27 23.22 1 0
2011-12 4 12 28.33 0 0
2012-13 7 22 22.63 1 1

 
Vinay Kumar is the only one who comes close to Pankaj’s phenomenal returns. Some of the others have done decently well and their selections have been on promise more than anything else. The most relevant example would be that of Varun Aaron. His returns in domestic cricket haven’t been great, but he was selected because of his raw pace.
 
Here is a combined tally of all the Indian fast bowlers who have made their international debuts since 2009-10:

Bowler M Wkts
Pankaj Singh 35 149
Abhimanyu Mithun 32 124
Jaydev Unadkat* 25 66
Praveen Kumar 10 38
 Umesh Yadav 20 68
Varun Aaron** 11 25
R Vinay Kumar 28 114

*Did not play 2009-10 season
**did not play 2012-13 season
 
Pankaj is the clear leader in this table and the only uncapped player in the group. It is astonishing that the selectors continue to ignore him even for India A team. Bowlers with inferior records have been handed the chance to travel with the India A side and pick up valuable experience. However, Pankaj’s last stint with the A team was way back in 2007. Indian team management has often mishandled fast-bowlers and a bowler like Pankaj has been wasted without being given a fair shot.
 
What more can a player do but perform and hold on to every last bit of hope? Late last year, Pankaj made his feelings clear when he told ESPNcricinfo, Why am I not presented with an opportunity? What more do I need to do to seek attention?”

The heart goes out for Pankaj Singh. Will the Dhritarashtras who matter in Indian cricket finally show the necessary vision and do Pankaj belated justice?

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

Amla feels Proteas more acclimatised to conditions

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Suresh Raina gifts Aditya Garhwal an autographed bat

Dwayne Bravo says West Indies pull-out had everybody’s consent

Bangladesh gain upper-hand over Zimbabwe at stumps on Day 1 of 1st Test

David Warner and others with records related to hundreds in consecutive Test innings

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

Michael Clarke: Younis Khan is one of the gentlemen of our game

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone to meet South Zone in final

Pakistan eye victory as Australia reel at 59/4 at stumps on Day 4

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: David Warner admits that Australia is not scared of big targets

TE Srinivasan: Graceful at the crease and in death

Duleep Trophy 2014-15: Six things we learnt from the quarter-finals and semi-finals

Fazal Mahmood engineers Pakistan’s first ever Test match victory

Saeed Ajmal or not, Pakistan’s spin attack marches on

Younis Khan — Pakistan’s greatest batsman?

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Apple to merge Beats Music with iTunes next year as music sales fall 14 percent in 2014: WSJ

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan considered skipping Tests

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

WTA Finals 2014: Sania Mirza and Cara Black shock Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik to secure final berth

New Zealand vs South Africa 2014: Indifferent start to New Zealand’s World Cup preparations

Dear IAF, every smartphone not just Xiaomi could be a security threat

NGOs pursue education for all

ISL 2014, 12th Match: Delhi Dynamos FC 4-1 Chennaiyin FC in Pics

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here