Renuka leaps in air after knocking over Alice Capsey (Image Source: BCCI)

One of the few constants these days in this rapidly changing world is the sight of Renuka Singh Thakur breaching the defence of an opening batter and going on a celebratory run, with her arms stretched and face beaming with a smile.

The 3-match T20I series between hosts India Women and former world champions, England, was largely in the visitor’s favour, but the 27-year-old right-arm seamer from Shimla  proved to be a shining beacon yet again with her four key attributes: swing, seam, accuracy and heart tuned to the zenith.

Renuka provided India a dream start in the series opener as she knocked over Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey, the latter with a peach of a delivery, which angled in with the wobble seam to breach the defence of the right-hander, to reduce the tourists to 2/2.

Renuka Singh Thakur knocks over Bouchier (Image Source: BCCI)

Then, in the following game, she proved to be the lone shining light amid as she demolished the defence of Dannie Wyatt and Dunkley with her inswingers to give her side some hope of defending their hugely under-par total of 80, which they eventually couldn't.

The worst feeling for any athlete is when he/she ends up on the losing end of the spectrum despite their individual brilliance. But, when the disappointment subsides, it riles them up even more to dig even deeper in their reserves and drag their team past the finishing line.

Thakur did exactly that in the 3rd T20I as she once again knocked over both the English openers in the powerplay, and her teammates- Shreyanka Patil (3/19 [4]) & Saika Ishaque (3/22 [4]) cashed in on the platform to bowl the English team out for 126; a target that the Women in Blue eventually managed to overall thanks to an unbeaten run-a-ball 48 from Smriti Mandhana and brilliant blows at the end from Amanjot Kaur.

In the 3 matches, Renuka took 7 wickets @ 10.86, but these raw numbers cannot justify the kind of impact she has had on our bowling attack amid all the doom and gloom.

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Renuka Singh Thakur: A lotus that blooms in adversity

Renuka Singh Thakur (Image Source: BCCI)

Of course, stepping up to the occasion during adversity is something that comes naturally to Renuka.

Born in the same village of Parsa, some 110 kilometers away from the ‘Queen of Hills’, Renuka lost her father when she was just 3 years old.

When you lose a parent this early in life, then you mature beyond your age as a sense of responsibility kicks in. But, as a kid, Renuka was really fascinated with the game of cricket.

Her passion was fueled by her mother, who worked tirelessly and selflessly to ensure that Renuka kept working towards her goal without any issue.

Renuka Thakur on the contribution of her mother

“Despite the hardships, mum never let us understand the pain she took to run the family. I get emotional every time mum calls me. I have mixed feelings since dad is not there to see me play for India but I know he is watching me from heaven.'' she was quoted as saying by Female Cricket.

Renuka grew up playing cricket with boys in her backyard, and her talent was finally recognized by her uncle, Bhupendra Singh Thakur.

Thakur used to run a cricket academy in Dharamsala, where young Renuka’s skills were honed by coach Pawan Sen.

Her consistent performances in age-group cricket, including a hat-trick at the U19 level, caused a stir in the domestic circuit, and she backed it up with a breakthrough season- 23 wickets- for the senior state team in 2019.

Another stirring season in senior 50-over tournament in 2021, ensured a national call-up as the Himachal cricketer was picked for the white-ball series Down Under.

Read: Beyond the Scorecard: Decoding India's T20 Triumph Over Australia

Renuka Steps Into Queen-Sized shoes of Jhulan Goswami

Renuka celebrates after knocking over Aussie top-order (Image Source: BCCI)

Renuka was picked for the 2022 ODI World Cup, where she got the opportunity to play under the tutelage of the legendary Jhulan Goswami.

Goswani had led the bowling unit with unparalleled brilliance during her two-decade career, but as her career approached sunset, the only question in every fan’s mind was, WHO COMES AFTER JHULAN???

We got the answer in the opening game of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham after Renuka dismantled the famed top-4 of world champions Australia with the trademark seam, swing and accuracy that Jhulan had perfected over the years.

Renuka Singh Thakur and Smriti Mandhana (Image Source: BCCI)

Renuka claimed figures of 4/18 in 4 overs in what turned out to be a heartbreaking defeat for the Women in Blue, but that game was an indication that the young seamer was here to stay.

Of course, all of this did not happen in isolation. It's a result of years of dedicated hard work that she had put in behind the scene.

Among the many qualities that she has imbibed from her mother, the greatest of them is discipline and constant focus on the goal.

Being a fast bowler, she knows the importance of fitness, and that is exactly what she worked on relentlessly prior to the CWG games.

Thakur finished with 2 four-wicket-hauls in the tournament as India finished as silver medalists.

The CWG games was followed by an ODI series in England, where the baton was officially passed by the retiring Jhulan to Renuka as the latter finished with a couple of 4-fors in a 3-0 triumph for the Women in Blue.

Renuka was eventually named as the Emerging Player for the year 2022 by the ICC in the annual awards, and the 27-year-old has only gone on from strength to strength since then.

In 10 T20Is this year, the Himachal cricketer has taken 15 wickets @ 15.06/6.27- the second-most by an Indian.

“Today, Dad must be super-happy and a proud man. It was his dream to see either me or my brother play for India. I have lived up to Dad’s dream”, 

Renuka said after she was picked for the 50-over World Cup last year. An year and a half later, one can safely say that her father is not only smiling from heaven, but is also looking forward to a hopefully long career from his baby girl.

Featured Image Credit: BCCI