Singh is Super King: Akash hoping to realise his dreams at new IPL side

On Thursday, CSK named Akash Singh, a young pacer from Bharatpur, as a replacement for the injured Mukesh Chaudhary.

Published : Mar 31, 2023 10:22 IST , MUMBAI - 5 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Akash Singh can clock upwards of 145kmph quite often.
FILE PHOTO: Akash Singh can clock upwards of 145kmph quite often. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

FILE PHOTO: Akash Singh can clock upwards of 145kmph quite often. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Akash Singh is no stranger to the Indian Premier League bandwagon. The young left-arm fast bowler was part of the Rajasthan Royals set-up a few years ago, and featured in a solitary game against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi.

However, with figures of 4-0-39-0, the youngster had to warm the bench for the rest of the season before the franchise decided against retaining him ahead of 2022 mega auction.

It was a difficult time for the 20-year-old. After his IPL stint lasted for just one game, Akash did not find himself in the scheme of things for his state team Rajasthan and had to eventually move to Nagaland as a guest player for the 2022-23 season. Though he did not have the best of times in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the Plate team, claiming just five wickets in six games, he grabbed 10 wickets in the Ranji Trophy and 14 wickets in the One-dayers.

Though at times, he conceded runs, what impressed many was his pace. He could clock 145kmph and beyond quite often, and it’s perhaps this quality that earned him another IPL contract after two years, and that too with the Chennai Super Kings!

On Thursday, CSK named the young pacer from Bharatpur as a replacement for the injured Mukesh Chaudhary. He has joined the team in Ahmedabad, with a hope to eventually break into the playing eleven as the tournament progresses.

The shy and soft-spoken Akash, who was also part of India U-19 team that played the World Cup final in 2020, would certainly need a bit of handholding at CSK, but those who have seen him from close quarters, believe that the youngster can emerge as a surprise element for the Chennai outfit, if groomed well.

“Getting game time is more important for him. If you are just sitting there and watching, you might lose out on talent. That’s what had happened to him in Rajasthan, where he kind of got lost among so many other talents. In Nagaland, we were lucky to have given him a break,” RX Murali, who was the coach of Nagaland during the last domestic season, tells  Sportstar.

“He has a lot of advantages. One, he is a left-hander. Number two, he is quick. Being a left-hander and also being quick is a rarity. So, it is nice that CSK has identified and is backing him. It will do him a world of good,” Murali says.

Those who have seen him since his formative years in Rajasthan believe Akash is someone who would need a bit of handholding and direction, rather than him picking up things while watching others. That helped him in Nagaland, and given the fact that CSK has the history of grooming youngsters, it could be the perfect platform for him.

When he moved to Nagaland, it was a challenge for the vastly experienced coach Murali – who, over the years, has mentored the likes of Karun Nair – to get the best out of Akash. But the seasoned coach had regular conversations with him and gave him the confidence that seemed to pay off as the season progressed. “Not just him, most youngsters are too anxious to prove and in that process, they often lose their focus. They often get too excited, and the most important thing is that you need to stay in the present and focus on your game,” Murali says.

“You need to get your bowling plan right. He did well in the first match and got carried away, and then somebody had to tell him to hang on. He was made to understand that it’s okay to have a bad day and also it is important to move on quickly.”

That paid off in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Ranji Trophy Plate Group, as he was more consistent and slowly buoyed with confidence. And with every success, it was also an opportunity for Akash to prove his critics wrong.

When Akash claimed a perfect 10

It has, obviously, not been an easy journey for the young gun. Coming from a lower middle-class family in Bharatpur, Akash shifted to Jaipur about eight years ago, when former Rajasthan spinner late Vivek Yadav spotted him at a local game. With Vivek’s encouragement, Akash moved to a new city and stayed at the Aravali Cricket Club campus on the outskirts of Jaipur to pursue his dreams.

With minimal facilities and challenges, the going was tough, but with Vivek backing him, Akash did not give up. In November 2017, Akash featured in a local tournament – the Bhawer Singh T20 Cup – and bowled four overs — all of them maidens — and grabbed all ten wickets. Though it was not a BCCI or Rajasthan Cricket Academy-affiliated tournament, his feats earned him praise from the fraternity.

Thereon, Akash worked harder and broke into the Rajasthan U-16 and U-19 teams and eventually graduated into the senior team before making the cut for India U-19. In 2021, he suffered a huge setback when his coach Vivek passed away due to COVID-19. With his career at crossroads, Akash was supported by a few friends and local cricketers.

Despite failures and not enough opportunities coming his way, Akash took things in his stride and eventually moved on to Nagaland with a hope to start afresh. The move has clearly worked well for him.

After being noticed by the fraternity in the Plate group fixtures, he has now managed to fulfill another of his dreams – to share the dressing room with the  one and only Mahendra Singh Dhoni!

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