Ranji Trophy: Pankaj breaches the 400-mark

Playing for Puducherry now, he becomes the first pacer to achieve the milestone.

Pankaj Singh is the first fast-bowler and 10th overall to pick 400 wickets in the National championship.   -  Getty Images

There has not been a more consistent fast bowler in Indian domestic circuit over the last decade than Pankaj Singh. The former Rajasthan pacer has, year-on-year, delivered the goods for his side.

For the current season, the senior pro moved out of Rajasthan to join new entrant Puducherry and, on Sunday, finished with another eight-wicket haul as his side posted an easy 10-wicket win over Manipur in the Ranji Trophy.

But more importantly, when he picked his first wicket in Manipur’s second innings, the 33-year-old crossed yet another landmark in domestic cricket becoming the first fast-bowler and 10th overall to pick 400 wickets in the National championship.

400-Club:

Rajinder Goel (637) 

S. Venkataraghavan (530) 

Sunil Joshi (479)

Narendra Hirwani (441) 

B.S. Chandrasekhar (437) 

V.V. Kumar (418) 

Sairaj Bahutule (405) 

Bishan Singh Bedi (403) 

Pankaj Singh (403)

Utpal Chatterjee (401)

Feels great

Speaking to Sportstar on Wednesday, Pankaj Singh said, “It feels great to go past 400 wickets in Ranji Trophy. It is quite a big landmark because for a fast bowler to achieve it is a special thing.”

Pankaj Singh, who played in two Tests for India against England in 2014 added, “When I started playing, I never thought I would be able to do this. But in the last two years, I was aware this record was a possibility and I am fortunate to get to this mark.”

With chances of an India comeback slim, the 33-year-old pacer, who was part of two Ranji-winning campaigns with Rajasthan, said, he did not want to block the chance of a youngster as one of the reasons behind his move to Puducherry. “More importantly, moving here gives me a chance to mentor some young fast bowlers and bring up a team.”

Love playing

When asked what keeps him going, the pacer said, “I just love playing cricket and I want to be the best when I step on a field. More importantly, I want to leave on a high playing at my best, and as long as I feel I can do well, I will play.”

Pankaj’s debut in Southampton was a forgetful one as he returned wicketless but things could have been different had Ravindra Jadeja held on to a catch of Alastair Cook or a close lbw shout against Ian Bell had gone his way.

It is something the seamer agrees could have resulted in a different outcome, but added, “I have no regrets because I fully believe in the fact that you can’t change the past and if you are thinking about it you can’t focus on the present and future.”

Speaking about his current team Puducherry, Pankaj Sigh added, “We have a very good professional set up here and if we continue to go in the right way, in three to five years, Puducherry can compete with the established teams.”