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Yashpal, the lone ranger

Yashpal Singh confesses to Varun Gupta that his decision to sign in haste for Services has given him time to repent at leisure.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 11:52 IST

“IT DOES bother me once in a while,” Yashpal Singh, after relentless goading, finally gives up and confesses — that his decision to sign in haste for Services has given him time to repent at leisure.

The admission, one thought, would be obtained with glib ease. After all, it is only natural for a player who has been scoring as prolifically in domestic cricket as him over five years to be frustrated by being nowhere in the reckoning for the Indian team, and then lament as much.

Yet, the acknowledgement never comes and finally, one had to literally put one’s hand down his gullet and force it out of him. But then, that is Yashpal, a gentle, rather taciturn individual who hardly allows himself any indulgence of sentiment, publicly at least.

“Services threw me into the world of first-class cricket, lest you forget," he says, towing the diplomatic line with aplomb. But when pressed persistently, he cracks. “Yeah, of late, it has been very frustrating. Services fall in the Plate Division and it does not generate as much interest in the media, and my performances go unnoticed.”

However, when asked whether it hurts when players like Suresh Raina, who haven’t scored as heavily in Ranji as him, come up and immediately find themselves in the scheme of things while he is nowhere in the picture, the rather shy man turns amazingly candid.

“No, Raina did well in the under-19 stage. But yes, at times I have thought about quitting Services. Now I have decided to play in the Elite Division and hence, am looking for a team. Yes, I am on the lookout for an Elite Division team,” Yashpal reiterates with remarkable candour.

Finally, it seems that some sense has prevailed. This decision, many feel, should have been made a long time ago, probably after the spiffy batsman’ second season with the Services team. His debut, ironically against Delhi (he made 69 and 89) was highly memorable — he plays for Sonnet Club here but the state  repeatedly overlooked him, and probably ostracised him too.

The second game was about to get even better. Even in his wildest dreams Yashpal hadn’t fathomed he would play such an innings against Punjab. He bludgeoned his way to his maiden double century and hit an astonishing 14 sixes in that innings, including four consecutive ones off Dinesh Mongia.

“That innings was a gift from God . says Yashpal.

There is an infectious, almost naïve enthusiasm in Yashpal’s answers, one that is rare in the commercial world of today's cricket. Until now, he has kept going on a combination of adrenaline and hope, illuminating the dim world of the Plate Division. But now, with his belated decision to look for greener pastures, the time is ripe to step out of the shadows and bask in the sun. Here's hoping for the same.