Pankaj Singh cherishes entry in the '400 club'

Pankaj Singh has expressed his joy at having taken 400 First-Class wickets, joining the likes of Madan Lal, Debashish Mohanty and R. Vinay Kumar as a seamer from India who has crossed the landmark. The leading wicket-taker this season spoke to Sportstar on the achievement and his next professional target.

Pankaj Singh..."I am bowling well, I am bowling quick, and I continue to take wickets."   -  Special Arrangement

It has been two years since Pankaj Singh dismissed Joe Root and Jos Buttler in the fourth Test of India’s tour of England, in Manchester. While the two English cricketers are part of the current Indian tour, Pankaj is bowling his heart out in the domestic circuit.

And he is bowling as well as he has ever done, he feels. With 35 wickets, the Rajasthan captain is, in fact, the leading the wicket-takers’ list in the Ranji Trophy.

On Tuesday, the second day of the Group B match against Delhi at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium, he also took his 400th wicket in First Class cricket. And he did that in his 100th game.

He also became only the fourth Indian pacer to take 400 First Class wickets, after Madan Lal, Debashish Mohanty and R. Vinay Kumar. “Only late last night did I come to know of that fact and that made me very happy,” Pankaj told Sportstar on Wednesday. “As the statistics show, it is not easy for a pace bowler to take that many wickets in India.”

He said it felt nice becoming the highest taker for Rajasthan. He had gone past the tally of Kailash Gattani’s 397 wickets in his last Ranji match. “Yes, it has been a good season for me,” said the tall paceman. “I have been getting wickets regularly and that too on pitches and in conditions that are not always helpful for pace bowling.”

He added it was a challenge bowling in southern India. “It is so different from northern India we normally play,” he said. “The weather can be pretty hot in most places even in the winter.”

Pankaj believes he could still make a comeback in the Indian team. “I am bowling well, I am bowling quick,” he said. “And I continue to take wickets.”

Aiming for the India cap

He admits there is stiff competition among Indian pace bowlers for a place in the national team. “When you want to play for India, you have to compete against the best,” he reasoned. “My next target is not 500 First Class wickets, but to play for India again.”

Looking back at his brief international career – he played in two Tests on that England tour and a one-dayer in Sri Lanka four years earlier – he said he felt he had bowled better than what his figures suggested.

“Everyone told me that I bowled well, but sometimes you may not get wickets even after good spells,” he said. “But, I would rather like to think about the future.”