Rajasthan pace ace Pankaj Singh, who featured in a couple of Tests and a lone ODI for India, has retired from all forms of cricket.
The 36-year-old, who has 633 domestic wickets in his kitty, played for Rajasthan for more than a decade before moving to Puducherry in 2018. He returned to the Rajasthan fold in the 2019 season, but an injury saw him missing out on the season.
“It is an emotional decision for sure. But I thought about it and decided that it is time to hang up my boots and do something new,” Pankaj told Sportstar. Having played the game for 15 long years, Pankaj now plans to build a career in coaching.
“I have done level-2 coaching and I definitely want to start coaching teams. Now that I have formally retired, I can think about that. I will assess things and see how it goes,” Pankaj said.
The tall right-arm medium-fast bowler played a key role in guiding Rajasthan to two consecutive Ranji Trophy titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Despite being consistent at the domestic level, he could not cement his place in the national team. While he played one ODI against Sri Lanka in 2010, Pankaj featured in two Tests against England in 2014 and scalped two wickets.
“Getting the Test cap was the biggest moment of my career and it has been an incredible journey. I have always enjoyed the game and that’s why it was difficult to take the tough call, but eventually, I had to,” Pankaj said.
“I am fortunate enough to receive the Test cap from Sourav Ganguly and got opportunity to play under captaincy of legend M. S. Dhoni. Memories of donning the Test cap will always be close to my heart,” he said.
In his long career, Pankaj played for Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural IPL before transferring to Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second season. He was brought back by Royals later. His next big break came when he was included in the limited-overs sides for India’s tour of Zimbabwe, when the selectors decided to rest several senior players.
So, what’s next?
“I did my level-2 coaching and then last year, there was a pandemic. Those few months helped me make up my mind and focus more on coaching. Now, I will work on those areas,” the fast bowler said.
While admitting he would have wanted to play for India for longer, Pankaj said he had no regrets. “I have no regrets. As I look back, I only have happy memories. And I thank everyone for their support,” the fast bowler stated.