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How a brother's sacrifice enabled Mandeep Singh to reach India's domestic cricket summit

3.80K   //    04 Jan 2016, 16:17 IST
Mandeep Singh celebrating with teammates, after running out AB de Villiers 

A new youthful Punjab squad, bolstered by the experience of Indian World Cup heroes Yuvraj and Harbhajan Singh are enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Currently sitting on top of the Vijay Hazare Trophy North Zone charts, the state team is also sitting second in their Ranji Trophy group.

Central to their success has been the rise of all-rounder, Mandeep Singh, who is currently the highest scorer in limited overs domestic cricket.  Having notched up 394 runs in seven matches, Singh has justified his latest India ‘A’ call-up. In fact, during an interview with Sportskeeda, India’s World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh stated that Mandeep has the potential for a national team call-up.

He has attributed a success to the time spent learning within the Bangalore Royal Challengers’ dressing room. Mandeep said, “For my batting, AB de Villiers taught me a lot of things. One major aspect that I learned from him was the ability to control my head while facing the ball. Virat is an absolute fitness freak, actually if I think back I have slacked time to time while fielding, but working with Virat I learned how to improve various facets of my fitness. Every player has a some unique thing to offer, so it’s our duty as a team player to feed of it. If I’m doing well today, it’s because of my teammates, who helped me play my game.”

Mandeep first broke onto the scene, during the 2012 IPL season, where he was voted the ‘Emerging Player of the year’. He scored 432 runs in 16 matches, including a quick-fire 75 against Rajasthan Royals.

Despite recommendations of high stature stature, the 24-year old has his feet firmly on the ground. In fact, Mandeep has attributed a lot of the recent success to his humble background. Born to a Sports Authority of India (SAI) Coach Hardev Singh, he barely had enough money to buy Mandeep a kit.

Harvinder gave up cricket to earn money and help my career financially: Mandeep

It was his elder brother’s sacrifice, which has seen the Jalandhar-based batsmen knock on the Indian national team today.

He said, “I was very lucky at a lot of stages in my life. One example that I can give you is, my dad couldn’t pay for my kit or training in an academy. He used to tell me that I was a good cricketer, but he wouldn’t be able to finance it much. But I was adamant on joining an academy and I did that, and I was so lucky that I didn’t have to pay a dime, because they thought I was talented and took me in for free. My father always discouraged us to take up sports, because he was in the line himself and used to tell us that there is no money in it.”

Mandeep’s elder brother was also a cricketer he played at various district levels and had dreams of pursuing the sport professionally. However, after noticing Mandeep’s  prodigal talent, he decided to fund him by picking a more financially secure profession. Mandeep said, “Harvinder was a very good fast bowler, but he gave up the sport because of me. He thought I was very talented and for me to do better, I needed the proper backing, so he became a doctor. One day, he went to my dad and told him that he was quitting cricket to become a doctor. He sacrificed his dream for me. It’s something I will never forget.”

The sacrifice has clearly paid dividend, as the Singh family’s youngest brother is one of the most sought after cricketers in the country. With a massive chunk of the domestic season remaining, Mandeep has enough time to stake his claim for a national team slot.

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Sports journalist, dream to see India at the pinnacle of the sporting landscape one day.
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