Mandeep Singh - RCB's unsung hero
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has one of the strongest batting line-ups in the IPL with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli in the top 3. These guys are modern day greats in cricket. If one of them gets off to a good start, it is virtually game over for the opposition. Apart from this game changers, RCB does have a lot of talent in the rest of the team with the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Sarfaraz Khan among others. One man who has put his name in the hat with a few brilliant knocks is Mandeep Singh.
Mandeep may not have got the power of Gayle, or the ability to play all over the ground like Mr. 360 AB de Villiers or the technique of Kohli. But he has proven that once he gets going, he is a match winner.
Mandeep shows glimpses of his ability
It was the 29th match of IPL 8. RCB and Rajasthan Royals locked horns with each other in Chinnaswamy stadium. RCB got off to the worst possible start, with Gayle and Kohli back in the pavilion with only 19 on the score board. Mandeep came to bat at No. 4 with De Villiers at the other end.
He scored freely and kept the run rate ticking which allowed the senior De Villiers to settle. When Mandeep departed with a quick fire 27(20), he had set the platform for the power hitters to follow. De Villiers scored a half century and RCB reached to mammoth 200 with the help of heroics from 17-year-old Sarfaraz Khan.
Man of the match in 10-over thriller
Bangalore’s matches have been hampered by rain one too many times this season. Against KKR, rain once again played a part and forced the match to be a 10-over-a-side affair. KKR scored 111-4 with the help of Andre Russell's 17-ball-45. Bangalore got off to a flying start with Gayle scoring 21 from 9 balls however the West Indian and De Villiers departed in quick succession. Captain Kohli also perished while trying to up the ante. When Kohli departed, RCB still required 31 runs from 2.4 overs.
After initially rotating the strike with David Wiese, Mandeep cut loose in the 9th over, scoring two consecutive boundaries in the last two balls. RCB now needed 13 from last over. Wiese took a single in the first ball to give Mandeep the strike.
Despite his tender age, Mandeep maintained his cool and smashed Andre Russell for two sixes to help Bangalore win the rain-affected match. He finished with a brilliant 45 off just 18 balls.
Match-winning partnership with AB de Villiers
Playing Rajasthan in the eliminator, Gayle and Kohli fell cheaply. De Villiers and Mandeep Singh steadied the ship for RCB, who scored 180. Both these batsmen played stellar innings with the young Indian staying on the crease till the end, scoring 54 off 34, while his South African teammate got run out after a 100-run partnership having scored 66 off 38 balls. RCB went on to win the match by 71 runs.
ABD received the man of the match award, but he gave his award to the Indian and said, “The way Mandeep Singh played today, it is a man of the match performance. The trophy is going him.”
These kinds of performances witnessed from Mandeep makes him one for the future of Indian cricket. He is only 23 years old. It is wonderful to watch him play, the way he handles pressure is excellent. Who knows, Mandeep may become one of India's batting stars in the future. Keep an eye out for this swashbuckling batsman.