There were times when I thought I wasn’t good enough: Shashank Singh after his game-breaking innings

Shashank Singh in action (Image: IPL)

So, who is Shashank Singh? The cricketer who was allegedly at the receiving end of a mistaken identity at last year’s auction, followed by memes and jokes made on  him? Perhaps, it is the journeyman who played for Puducherry, Mumbai and Chhattisgarh? The one who was unsold in the IPL Auction in Kochi, which in turn made him contemplate about quitting the game? Or the latest version of Shashank, who became a household name after cracking a game-breaking unbeaten fifty plus for Punjab Kings against Gujarat Titans in IPL 2024?

The above-mentioned different versions serve as a microcosm about the cricketer’s journey. “I was feeling very down when I went unsold. I was playing in the Ranji Trophy. I was not able to concentrate there much because, obviously, I always felt that I belonged at this level (IPL) and I could win matches for my team.

“Somewhere last year, when I was not there in the IPL, I was quite frustrated. I thought I should not (continue) playing. My mind was not going this way or that way when the Ranji Trophy was going on,” Shashank said at a press conference organised by PBKS.

Shashank went on to thank his family for continuously backing and encouraging him during that  tough phase. “So, my family supported me, my mom, my dad, my sister and my brother-in-law. They were constantly supporting me. They were always believing in me. There were times when I thought this game was not meant for me, I am not good enough. 

“That’s where family comes in, they play an important role. I am very glad that I have parents and a sister who always support me. There are times, at 2 am, they would call me and keep me going,” he noted.

If you scratch the surface to get the bigger picture, you will get to notice Shashank has had to paddle through quite a few difficult times. One of them was while playing for Mumbai. From 2015 to 2017, he could only play 15 T20s and List A matches. Shashank quipped there was stiff competition for places. “When I played for Mumbai, you know the struggles in Mumbai, you have to take a local train and go to the ground. All those things matter because when you go onto the ground you feel like performing.

“Mumbai is the Mecca of Cricket. Having played for DY Patil for years, you need to score consistently to get into the Mumbai side. You know it’s not easy to crack into the Mumbai side for someone who is a middle-order batter. Mumbai has a wealth of middle-order batters. If you see Surya (Suryakumar Yadav), Sarfaraz (Khan), Shreyas and that was tough.”

Shashank’s style of taking a side deep into the chase is reminiscent of how one stalwart of Indian cricket goes about his business in limited overs cricket. He observes, “Whenever I have talked with Mahi Bhai (MS Dhoni), he always told me to take the game as deep as possible. He said when you take the game deep, the pressure on the bowler is as much as on the batter.

“It’s about who keeps the nerve calm. It is all about the mental thing to be as calm as possible.. I was doing deep breathing to keep myself calm and react to the ball. Sometimes you be over-smart and play rash shots, but I was just looking to react to the ball.”

That is another trait of Shashank which capsulises his self-belief. Whatever the situation or whoever he is up against, for Shashank has just one mantra:  “When I go to bat, I have to believe I am the best. I do not look at the bowler.”

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