IPL 2024: "I begged Andy-sir for one last chance," says RCB’s Swapnil Singh

As the Royal Challengers Bengaluru head into the eliminator match against the Rajasthan Royals, they'll be glad of having collected Singh in Dubai last December

Swapnil Singh at the RCB nets
Swapnil Singh at the RCB nets

Gautam Bhattacharyya

At 33 years and after being a journeyman in the Indian domestic circuit for 18 years, Swapnil Singh had almost given up on his dream of making a career in cricket.

Until, of course, the Royal Challengers Bengaluru picked him up for the IPL 2024 in the final hours of the mini-auction in Dubai last December.

A feisty left-arm spinner and all-rounder, Singh is expected to play a key role in the RCB’s eliminator match against the Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday, 22 May.

He had been keeping things tight for Faf du Plessis in their six back-to-back wins in the company of the unheralded leggie Karn Sharma, claiming six wickets from as many matches at an economy rate of 8.76.

Not many remember that Singh, who plays for Baroda, was a member of the Virat Kohli-led Under-19 India team that won the World Cup in 2008.

“The day of the IPL auction I was travelling to Dharamsala for a game. It was around 7 or 8 p.m. after I landed. Nothing had happened by then and the last rounds were on. When I missed out at first, I thought that’s it and it was all over,” Swapnil told RCB media. 

“I thought I would play out the ongoing (domestic) season, and if needed, I would end my career after playing the next season because I did not want to keep playing all my life. There are other things to do well in life as well.

"I was very disappointed,” said Singh, who had also been with the Mumbai Indians, the Punjab Kings and the Lucknow Super Giants in the past, without much exposure.  

Singh credits RCB head coach Andy Flower for keeping faith in him in the lead-up to the auction.

He had impressed Flower as a net bowler earlier, with his control and the coach asked him to come to an RCB training camp.

“Before RCB picked me in the auction, they had organised a trial-cum-camp. I spoke to Andy-sir and told him all about how my (domestic) season had gone.

"I told him, 'Just give me one chance. This might be my last chance. Just have faith in me.'

"He told he had faith in me. He called me for the camp,” Singh said. 

When he finally entered the RCB dressing room, Swapnil knew he would get to play eventually and was mentally prepared to wait for his chance.

“I never entered the ground thinking that 'I am not playing'. My first practice session was the first match for me, it was not just a practice session.

"I knew that I would have to be on target from ball one if I had to play even one game. So, the nets were my match,”  said Singh.

When the opportunity came, Singh grabbed it with both hands, eager to contribute with both bat and ball. He made an impact right away on his RCB debut, hitting a six and a four in an unbeaten 12 off 6, and also picked up a couple of wickets.

“I knew that if I got a chance to play, our captain Faf (du Plessis) would definitely give me an over to bowl," Singh said.

In his first over, he did not bowl six balls, but seven, as he had also bowled a no-ball. "And I got a wicket off the seventh ball, so it was God’s blessings,” Singh signed off. 

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