May 24, 2012 2:33:10 am
Despite their late surge,Kings XI could not qualify for the IPL-V play-offs. But few of the players,including Mandeep Singh,Parvinder Awana and Gurkeerat Singh Mann left a mark in the tournament with consistent performances for the Punjab side. Mandeep (432 runs) and Parvinder (17 wickets) emerged as top-scorer and highest wicket-taker respectively for the franchise but the one who stole the hearts of the fans was the Mohali-based swashbuckling batsmen Gurkeerat Mann-he played just five matches but the way he blasted 29 runs off 12 balls against Deccan Chargers to hand his team an upset win,was proof of his mettle.
Gurkeerat got his chance midway through the tournament,against Rajasthan Royals at Mohali. Speaking with Sportline,Gurkeerat recalled how he kept waiting for that chance. “I had a good season for Punjab in 2010,so I was expecting an IPL call-up last season. However that did not happen. Having done well for Punjab in T-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2011,I had a belief that I would be selected surely. When KXIP signed me,I was over the moon. It was like a dream coming true,playing alongside players like Gilchrist,Hussey and Mahmood,” said Gurkeerat,who took up the sport at the age of nine at the PCA stadium in Mohali.
He continued: “Getting to train with them enhanced my confidence levels. Somehow,I did not get a chance early in the championship but coach Vikram Rathore kept telling me to be focused and wait for the chances. And when I scored 23 runs against Rajasthan Royals on the debut,everyone congratulated me. That really pepped me. In the next match against the Deccan Chargers,I just played my natural aggressive game and blasted whatever came my way. Skipper Hussey too kept pushing me. And fortunately,we won the match.”
Gurkeerat played a pivotal role in steering Punjab to Col CK Nayudu U-22 Trophy triumph last season,by scoring most runs. Thereafter he shone with the bat in the T-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and helped Punjab reach the final against Baroda. Seeing his potential,KXIP think-tank signed up the 21-year-old middle-order batsman,who was born in a village Bam in Mukstar (Punjab). Apart from the fiery knock of 29 runs against DC,Mann also hammered a quick 23 against Delhi Daredevils at Dharamsala in their last match.
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For someone who idolises Virender Sehwag,IPL was like a learning curve. “When you get to face bowlers like Dale Steyn,Albie Morkel,Morne Morkel and Shane Whatson,as a player one’s confidence levels soar high naturally. Then one learns to play under pressure and crunch situations. And when established players come with advice,one wants to soak in every bit of it. Not many people knew me before IPL. But now,even when I go to the market people recognize me. So yes,IPL has been enriching experience for me,” said the student of DAV College,Sector 10,Chandigarh,who also plays for LIC Cricket Club.
During the IPL,Gurkeerat was most influenced by Gilchrist and Hussey. Having kept the wickets for Punjab in the T-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy,Gurkeerat was introduced to Gilly as wicket-keeper batsman. “Gilly was quite patient with me during the start of the camp. He would do wicket-keeping drills with me,tell me the wicket-keeping tricks and spend time with me over my batting. Hussey was also a great teacher. I remember,it was on his encouragement that I could play well against DC. I really admired these two men on the cricket field for their professionalism.” said Gurkeerat who trains under coach Sukhwinder Tinkoo and was nicknamed “Guru” by Hussey.
With eight List A ODIs and 20 T-20 matches under his belt,Gurkeerat wants to make his Ranji Trophy debut in the upcoming domestic season for Punjab. “Every cricketer grows up with a dream of playing for India and donning the national colours. I also have that dream to follow. And to fulfill that dream,I need to do well for Punjab at the domestic circuit. The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has been a great support for the youngsters in the past. It would be wonderful if I get to taste Ranji Trophy and other eminent tournaments playing for Punjab. I do not want to be labelled a T-20 specialist,instead I want to be known as someone who was best in every format.”
Every cricketer grows up with a dream of playing for India and donning the national colours. I also have that dream to follow. And to fulfill that dream,I need to do well for Punjab at the domestic circuit. The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has been a great support for the youngsters in the past. It would be wonderful if I get to taste Ranji Trophy and other eminent tournaments playing for Punjab. I do not want to be labelled a T-20 specialist,instead I want to be known as someone who was best in every format
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