Rudra Pratap Singh is another talented cricketer to emerge from Uttar Pradesh © Getty Images
Rudra Pratap Singh is another talented cricketer to emerge from Uttar Pradesh © Getty Images

Born December 6, 1985, Rudra Pratap Singh is another talented cricketer to emerge from Uttar Pradesh to play for India in the era of Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Suvajit Mustafi lists out 15 interesting things about the left-arm seamer, who had his moments of brilliance, but also a large share of disappointments.

1. Humble background

Born to Shiv Pratap Singh and Girija Devi, RP [Rudra Pratap] comes from a modest background. His father, an operator in the technical wing of the Indian Technical Institute, encouraged him to play cricket and sent him to the reputed Guru Govind Singh Sports College. RP has two sisters, Akansha and Deepa.

2. Namesake

He is the second Rudra Pratap Singh to represent India in international cricket. Co-incidentally, even the first one hailed from Uttar Pradesh and adding more to the co-incidence part, he too was a left-arm medium pacer. The senior Rudra Pratap, who is exactly 20 years and 11 months older to RP Singh junior, made his international debut in September 1986.

3. Lucknow Sports Hostel

RP is a product of the famed Lucknow Sports Hostel, which has produced several international cricketers like Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina and Gyanendra Pandey. In fact, RP has trained alongside Raina, who later became his team-mate at India Under-19, state team and senior India team.

4. Another impressive Under 19 cricketer

RP, who made his First-Class debut as an 18-year old, made news when he impressed everyone with bowling at the death in India’s Under-19 World Cup campaign in Bangladesh in 2004, where he picked up eight wickets at an average of 24.75. His continued his good form in the Ranji season, finishing as the joint highest wicket taker with 34 wickets in six matches.

5. Joining the ‘gang of left-arm pacers’

In Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan, India had three established left-arm pace bowlers, but the national selectors couldn’t ignore RP’s feats and handed him the India cap. He joined the gang, and made his One-Day International (ODI) debut under Sourav Ganguly, against Zimbabwe in Harare. Given the new ball, he struck in his second over, when he got Vusi Sibanda leg before.

6. Man-of-the-match on Test debut

In January 2006, RP made his Test debut in Faisalabad in Pakistan in a placid batting track. He was the third left-arm pacer in the team after Irfan and Zaheer. The Test saw 1702 runs being scored, while most bowlers were clobbered in the draw game, RP swung the ball beautifully to pick up five wickets, which is why he was awarded the man-of-the-match. He became the second Indian to achieve this feat after Pravin Amre. However, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, have achieved the same after RP.

7. Lord’s honour board

In 2007, RP became the 10th Indian bowler to pick a five-for at Lord’s. His feat did charge up the other new ball bowlers. The next two Indians to take fifers there were his Ranji team-mates Praveen Kumar (in 2011) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (in 2014). After Bhuvneshwar’s splendid effort, Ishant Sharma took seven wickets to help India win their first-ever Test at Lord’s a few months ago.

8. Twenty20 master

RP was instrumental in India winning the first ICC Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa in 2007. He picked up 12 wickets at an average of 12.67 and a mean economy rate of 6.33. Surprisingly, he just played three T20 International matches after that. However, he continued his good work in the shortest format in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
RP, who over the years has represented Deccan Chargers, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, was the Purple Cap winner (highest wicket-taker) for Deccan Chargers in 2009. His efforts saw the team lift the prestigious title.

RP, with 87 wickets, stands eighth in the list of highest wicket-takers in the cash-rich league.

9. Luckless at home

In a career spanning 14 Tests till now, RP has only played two of them at home. While RP has often been lethal in home conditions in domestic cricket, things didn’t transpire the same at the international level. The two Tests, he played at home were against South Africa, and he bowled wicket-less for 53 overs and gave away runs at almost four and half per over.

10. Marriage

In December 2012, RP Singh married Devanshi Popat in Ahmedabad. Devanshi, a law student, met RP a few years prior, during a Ranji Trophy match through common friends. The introverted RP became friends with her, and soon the friendship blossomed into love. The wedding was attended by his close friends MS Dhoni, Partiv Patel, Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan.

11. Dhoni’s best friend

As admitted by Dhoni himself, RP is one of his best friends. Be it celebrating the purchase of Dhoni’s Hummer or monitoring the building of his dream home in Ranchi, both men have been seen together on many instances. Despite the Indian captain’s hectic schedule, he always makes it a point to be with RP on all important occasions.

It’s believed that Dhoni once had a tiff with the national selectors, when they didn’t pick RP for a series in 2008.

12. ‘The worst first over in Test’

The friendship did have its low moments and had an effect on Indian cricket. When Praveen Kumar got injured during India’s disastrous England tour in 2011, RP, who was holidaying in the United States, was flown in for the Oval Test. Dhoni played him ahead of Munaf Patel, who was a member of the current squad, while it was RP’s first appearance at this level in three years. RP was overweight and unfit, and his first over saw five gentle looseners that went down the leg side. This angered Ian Botham so much, that he called it ‘the worst first over he had ever seen in a Test match.’ Already three down in the series, India ended it losing 0-4.

13. Graduation?

Earlier this year, RP showed intent in completing his Bachelors of Arts degree in Lucknow University, which was abruptly cut short in 2008-09, due to his international cricket commitments. He met the University officials for the same.

14. Named in Mudgal report

The sealed report submitted to the Supreme Court mentions RP’s name too, as he was questioned by Delhi Police in relation to the IPL spot-fixing and betting in 2013. However, nothing has been proved and the report says that the names mentioned don’t necessarily mean they are involved.

15. Fan following and possible media career

RP has 7,52,000 followers on Twitter and is also seen in the Aaj Tak studio as a cricket expert. RP, who often captains the UP team, turned 30 today, is still an active player, but a possible media career seems lurking over.

RP Singh’s cricketing career in pictures

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully [Twitter] and rivu7 [Facebook].)