Pankaj Singh made his test debut for India on Sunday at the Rose Bowl against England after Ishant Sharma– India’s leading bowler at Lords- failed to make it due to injury. It was indeed a proud moment for the young pacer as he received his Test cap from former Indian Captain Sourav Ganguly. He had cried out on New Year asking the selectors to give him once chance in Test Cricket and finally his dream was fulfilled.
Pankaj toiled hard on both the first and second day without any luck. He was seen standing with his hands on his hips on the field, fully disappointed. On Monday, he bowled with full enthusiasm. He managed to beat Ian Bell twice in his first over, with the fourth and fifth ball whistling past Bell’s outside edge. Any other day and Bell would have edged one of those and headed back to the dressing room. If Pankaj had some luck, Bell would have been dismissed on the first day itself. After the second new ball was taken on Sunday afternoon, he managed to swing in a ball and caught Bell on his pads,. It was followed by a loud appeal by Pankaj and the Indian team but umpire Rod Tucker seemed unimpressed. Tucker probably expected the ball to miss the leg stump but Hawk-Eye clearly showed that it would have hit the top of middle stump. He should have got the wicket of Alastair Cook but Ravindra Jadeja dropped his catch off Pankaj’s delivery.
One has to feel for Pankaj. He has worked hard to get his well deserved place in the Indian team. He was instrumental in Rajasthan’s performance as they went on to win the Ranji Title in two successive seasons, 2011 and 2012. He has been one of the most consistent fast bowlers in the domestic circuit for the last 5 years. After being ignored by the selectors on numerous occasions before it must have been an emotional moment for him as he made his debut. It was good to see that he did not lose his nerves on the big occasion. Even Dhoni was impressed by his efforts and had enough confidence on him. This led to the fact that he was given the second new ball on Sunday afternoon.
Pankaj should not lose hope and perform well in the second innings. Only that will ensure he gets further opportunities as a lot of fast bowlers are performing well for India and Ishant is expected to return once he is fit. Test cricket is hard and as a debutant Pankaj can only look forward.