Mandeep Singh says his mother wanted to see the same fire in his eyes that Virat Kohli has
- Mandeep Singh also spoke about his learnings from Virat Kohli's superb run of form during the memorable IPL 2016 season.
- The Punjab captain also credits AB de Villiers for helping him to overcome a lean patch of form.
Ahead of the 2015 Indian Premier League player auction, the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore were one of the most active teams during the trading window. RCB made four trades ahead of the 2015 Pepsi IPL, bringing in three players and trading out Parthiv Patel to the Mumbai Indians.
One among the newest entrants into the side was young Punjab batsman, Mandeep Singh. The then 24-year-old batter had played one season for the Kolkata Knight Riders and four editions of the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab and was set to partner some big names, including skipper Virat Kohli at RCB.
Having rubbed shoulders with some greats of the game such as Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle among others, Mandeep cherishes his time with RCB. And, in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, the ace batsman recalled how his first few encounters with Virat Kohli were inspirational.
"The experience at RCB was phenomenal. I feel I am a hard-working guy but the first time I saw Virat Kohli, I realised I had to increase my intensity. He would not stay long hours in the gym, but at the end of every session, you could see that he had given it his all," Mandeep said.
Mandeep made his RCB debut under Virat Kohli's captaincy in IPL 2015 and made 157 runs from 14 matches in that season. As per his own admission, Mandeep claimed that he realised he needed to get better, and worked hard on sharpening his technique.
"Virat Kohli's hunger to score runs is unlike anything else"
However, Mandeep picked up an injury just before the first match of the season and was forced to watch his teammates play from the sidelines. Notably, IPL 2016 was a landmark for Virat Kohli in the history of the IPL, for the RCB captain made 973 runs from 16 matches - the most runs in a single season.
As the cricketing fraternity bowed down at the RCB skipper's ability to take away matches from the opposition single-handedly, Mandeep shed light on how de Villiers backed the Punjab batsman throughout and asked him to learn from Virat Kohli's hunger to score runs.
"He (Virat Kohli) has the fire to score a lot of runs. I realised from Virat that you don't need to hit only sixes, there's a lot more than that. He's consistent only because of his fitness. It's his hunger to score runs. AB told me to learn that hunger from him and not only his technique," the Punjab captain said.
"My mother, even though she does not watch or follow too much cricket wanted to see the fire in Virat Kohli's eyes in my eyes as well. Every match he scored runs, but he still wanted to score more. He didn't stop. He never liked getting out, I learned a lot from that season," he added.
And, despite enduring a moderate season in IPL 2015 and sitting out with an injury throughout IPL 2016, Mandeep kept an optimistic outlook and claimed that a chat with de Villiers helped him out during the tough times.
"AB de Villiers told me that there was nothing to worry and I still had a lot of time left. He told me that 90% of the batsmen peak after the age of 28, and I still had plenty of time to learn. That advice helped me and from the last 1-1.5 years, I have grown confident about my style. How many ever mistakes I have done, I have learned a lot from them," the KXIP batsman added.
Currently enjoying some quality family time back in Chandigarh, Mandeep is working hard on his fitness and credits RCB trainer Shankar Basu for bringing about a change in his lifestyle.
Having made his RCB debut in 2015, Mandeep soon formed an important part of the Virat Kohli-led side's middle order. The Punjab batsman played four seasons for RCB, before he shifted to the KXIP for IPL 2019.
Mandeep reminisced his time with RCB and claimed that he does miss playing under Virat Kohli, although there's a sense of pride to play for the KXIP.
"Bengaluru is like my second home. I miss RCB, it's a great franchise. But to play for Punjab, I feel a lot of pride," Mandeep commented.