Exclusive || RCB aims to unearth hidden talents from remote India with Hinterland Scouting – Malolan Rangarajan
Shivani Gupta: 24-year-old Avinash Singh was a mysterious figure till December 16 evening, as the lanky pacer had not done anything which could grab the headlines. However, the IPL 2023 auction didn’t just change his life and fortunes, but also introduced all of us with yet another exceptional speedster from Jammu and Kashmir, Umran Malik being the first.
Claimed by Royal Challengers Bangalore, Avinash Singh can clock above 140 kmph with a lot of ease and aspires to cross 150 kmph pace. Registered at the base price of INR 20 Lakh, J&K boy drew interest from Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore, before latter sealed the bid for Rs. 60 Lakh.
While the cricket fraternity was unheard of Avinash Singh, RCB had unearthed his talent via Hinterland Scouting. RCB’s Head of Scouting Malolan Rangarajan led the ambitious project ‘Hinterland Scouting’ for three straight years with a sole objective to unearth a bowler which has never been ‘watched, discussed and posses raw and special talent.’
The brain behind ‘Hinterland Scouting’ – AI-based scouting method which uses advanced technology to validate the pace, bounce and movement of a bowler – Mr. Malolan Rangarajan told The Quotes that the process was initiated post-IPL 2020 season and trials at several verticals across remote areas in the country.
“We watched local tournaments in the country and tapped several players. We are a densely populated country and it is impossible to refine players from so many trials as it becomes difficult to keep a tap of every player with human intelligence. AI-based technology helped us in identifying the players more accurately, and also in keeping the track of every aspects of their performance during trials,” added Mr. Rangarajan.
Explaining the process involved in ‘Hinterland Scouting’ Mr. Rangarajan revealed that the process involves a very simple method and required only a handful of manpower on ground.
“Team of eight to ten used to visit remote areas in our country, rent academies, and set up cameras to record the trials. Two to three men were required to coordinate with participants. The recordings used to be submitted to the RCB core team. In the same way we received several recordings from different parts of the country. The AI-advance technology created a dashboard which used to categorise players from different regions as per our requirement. The process used to narrow down the final list for the core coaching staff,” added Mr. Rangarajan.
While the first three years of Hinterland Scouting was all about finding a rare bowler, Mr. Rangarajan confirmed that he plans to introduce the next series of the scouting process for finding out a rare batter. However, the confirmation from RCB’s top-management is still awaited.
In response to the selection of Avinash Singh, Mr. Rangarajan, who is also a fielding coach of RCB claimed that Singh is not ‘special’ only because he clocks 140 kmph plus pace, but there are other aspects, as well which provided an edge to his resume.
“We often rate any bowler clocking 140 kmph plus pace as special. But, that’s not the case. Avinash had to go through several camps which were closely examined by RCB’s bowling coach Adam Griffith. Apart from absolute pace, Avinash has a very sound action, good rhythmic run-up, and performed well in most of the circumstances we put him into. He also passed the strength & conditioning test with an impressive mark,” Mr. Rangarajan said.
Avinash Singh, who is yet to play a single professional game in domestic cricket, has not been put under any pressure in regards with his performance from the RCB management. Mr. Rangarajan feels Avinash Singh is a special kid, and can rattle the stumps and confidence of the best of the batters in the world.
“I am confident that Avinash will blow away the mind of the cricket fraternity. But primarily we want him to enjoy the process and get comfortable in the RCB setup,” Mr. Rangarajan said.
He further revealed that Singh will go through an extensive training process during the RCB camps, and the franchise will provide him every opportunity to grow and learn.
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“We don’t want to burden him or any other new signee under any sort of pressure of expectation. Himanshu Singh is another bright prospect which has been included in the Bangalore set-up. We want these players to learn as much as possible, and prepare them for a crucial situation. We are hoping they will express themselves well during the Bangalore camps, next year,” concludes Mr. Rangarajan.
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