A humble person, who believes in performing rather than cribbing about not getting enough chances, Gurkeerat Singh spoke about how he decided to pursue a career in cricket professionally. He highlighted the role of his coach Sukhwinder Singh Tinku in shaping him up into the player he is today during an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda.
"I started playing cricket when I was eight years old. I used to stay near the stadium itself. I was very young when I got selected for the district level. So from that point, even my coach Mr. Sukhwinder Singh Tinku worked a lot on me. He told me that I should play professionally, and this should be my sole focus," Gurkeerat Singh Mann said.
Every budding player produces one marquee performance, where he comes of age and proves that he belongs at that level. Gurkeerat Singh Mann is no different as he talked about the moment when he believed he had what it takes to be a successful player at the highest level.
"We had an U-23 final against Delhi, and in that game, I had made 195. This was the reason I was selected in the Punjab Ranji Trophy team. So I did have the confidence as I had runs under my belt going into the senior team. In my debut one-day season, I was the highest scorer from the North Zone," said Gurkeerat Singh.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann on his memorable partnership with Yuvraj Singh
The 30-year-old recalled his memorable partnership with Yuvraj Singh, where the latter scored a brilliant 164 on a seaming track in Lahli against Madhya Pradesh in 2016.
"Luckily at that point, Bhajju Pa and Yuvi Paaji were playing for Punjab. The experiences they have shared with me have been crucial. The one innings I can recall of me and Yuvi Paaji was in Lahli, Haryana. There, I had scored 100 odd runs, while Yuvi Paaji had scored 180 odd runs. It was the longest that we both have been together at the crease, which makes this innings even more special to me. Spending as much time as possible with a legend like him really made that innings memorable for me," said Gurkeerat Singh.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann's maiden India call-up
Following a number of impressive seasons in first-class and List A cricket, where Gurkeerat Singh Mann averaged in the mid-40s, he finally received an India call-up for the 2015 home series against South Africa. Although he didn't get a chance in the playing XI, it was not long before he wore the blue jersey for the first time on January 17th, 2016, against Australia.
"I was named in the South Africa series (2015) for the first time but didn't play any games either in ODIs or in Tests. Then in the 2016 tour to Australia, myself, Barinder Sran and Rishi Dhawan were picked. So our performances in the domestic season were rewarded."
Getting one's debut cap from a legend like MS Dhoni is always something to be cherished. Gurkeerat Singh Mann loved every moment of sharing the dressing room with the former Indian captain, saying in this regard:
"It was an amazing experience to play under MS Dhoni. I consider myself really lucky, as my debut cap was presented to me by Mahi Bhai. It was certainly a great experience to learn from him, play under him and bat with him."
Gurkeerat Singh was drafted into the Indian team, as the search for a batting all-rounder was on. After impressing with his all-round ability in domestic cricket, Gurkeerat Singh was destined to become one of the mainstays for the Men in Blue in white-ball cricket.
However, things didn't pan out as he would have hoped to. Gurkeerat Singh scored just 13 runs in three games and failed to pick up a wicket. He hasn't represented Team India since then. Yet, far from being disheartened by the limited opportunities he has received, Gurkeerat Singh opts to see the positive side of things.
"I don't think frustration is the solution to any problem. I had decided that I would go back to domestic cricket and continue performing well. I will do what is in my control, and then it is upto the selectors," said Gurkeerat Singh.
Gurkeerat Singh Mann eyes India comeback
Five years on from that ODI series Down Under, in which Team India lost 1-2, there are serious question marks about the team's five-bowler strategy. It is evident batting all-rounders are the need of the hour in ODIs for Team India.
That means the likes of Gurkeerat Singh Mann have a chance of staging a comeback to the Indian team. His swashbuckling innings against Tamil Nadu has certainly showed he still has what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
The Punjab batsman believes he will have to focus on rolling his arm over more, as he wants to make himself available as a genuine all-round option. With hope in his heart, Gurkeerat Singh would continue what he knows best - winning games for his team.
"Yes definitely, I am positive about making an India comeback, and I am working hard for it. The one thing that I feel is that I will need to start bowling a bit more for Punjab. My bowling will improve by that, and when you have wickets to show, then only you can prove your point. In today's cricket, you never know when your opportunity might come. So I will have to be ready when it comes now," Gurkeerat Singh concluded.