Back in 2007, when a young Barinder Singh Sran shifted his base to Bhiwani from Panniwala Morika, a village near Sirsa, all he wanted to do was to pursue a career in boxing. A glance at a newspaper advertisement in 2009 meant that Sran opted for the trials at Mohali and his career path took a turn.
Eight years after he started boxing, Sarn touched a new high when the Haryana resident was named in the 15-member Indian ODI team for the ODI series against Australia to be played next month.
“What more I can ask for? It’s perhaps the biggest day in my career. Initially I always wanted to be a boxer and idolised Vijender and other Haryana boxers. And those two years at Bhiwani taught me a lot. And when cricket happened, I just gave my best. I did not know about bowling before the trials and just bowled with pace. I used to hear a lot about MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and other players in my career and to share the dressing room with such players would be great for me,” Sarn says, while talking to The Indian Express from Bengaluru where Punjab is playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
His father Balbir Singh, a small-time farmer talks about the initial days of uncertainty. “We own about six acres in the village and Barinder would box at the local village ground. When boxing coach Sathish Kumar approached us to send Barinder to Bhiwani, (to work with coach Jagdish Singh) we were little nervous.”
The next two years would see Sarn staying at Bhiwani, and nurturing the dreams of becoming as big as the academy’s famous trainees like Vijender Singh and Vikas Yadav.
“Initially he would not visit us for 3-4 months and whatever money we earned from selling our crops would go into his training expenses. Later he said that he wants to play cricket. I told him whatever he plays he should play with full heart. And today’s selection has paid all his efforts,” said 58-year-old Balbir Singh, Barinder’s father.
A late starter, Sarn took seven wickets on his debut for Punjab against Orissa in 2011. However, first a knee injury and then a freakish shoulder injury sustained in a road accident in 2012 put him out of action for a year, and he took further two years to make his comeback to the Punjab team.
“My boxer friends apart from cricketers would also visit me and they motivated me a lot.”
Sarn made his comeback earlier this year, picking up 16 wickets in Ranji and 12 wickets in the ongoing Vijay Hazare trophy.
“They told me to concentrate on my line and length and short balls and I will be try their tips out in Australia,” Sarn said. With the presence of his Ranji teammates Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Gurkeerat in the Indian team, Sarn says he is really looking to make a name for himself in Australia.
Rishi Dhawan gets the nod
Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh cricketer Rishi Dhawan also made it to the Indian ODI squad for series against Australia. The 25-year-old all-rounder, who smashed a century against Madhya Pradesh on Friday in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, made it to the team on the basis of his all-round abilities.