While the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all about getting exposure to high-profile cricket for a young cricketer,19-year-old Harmeet Singh ended up experiencing a turn of events that will surely remain etched in his memory for all the wrong reasons. Rajasthan Royals Harmeet tells SAHIL MALHOTRA about being in a dressing-room riled with controversy following the arrests of three senior teammates,besides the happier highlights of his maiden IPL season.
How did you deal with the troubled days in the IPL following the arrests of some of your teammates?
We were shattered as a team and players. It was really shocking to learn about the involvement of our players in it. The team,however,reacted very strongly to this issue and we regrouped to keep our focus on cricket. As a youngster,it was a very terrifying experience for me.
What did Dravid and Paddy Upton say to hold the team together?
Rahul had already experienced a similar situation when he was with India in 2000. He told us to keep our focus on cricket,and stay strong. We lost our first game after this incident,and the team decided to move to Jaipur for three days. Paddy Upton did a lot of mental conditioning work with the team with some amazing team-building activities. All the activities were off cricket. Those were great learning days. We were prepared for the tie against Mumbai Indians,but somehow finished on the losing side.
You went for a lot of runs in the only game you played. What went wrong?
Firstly,it was a big moment for me when Rahul told me that I will bowl the first over of the innings. The first over went well,but the second one was expensive. I was not short of confidence after that and even Rahul kept encouraging me to finish strong. I did that and didn’t concede much in the remaining two.
It was a delight to bowl to some of the finest players in cricket. They were very encouraging and interactive. In between,the net session,they used to walk down to me and correct me if I was going wrong or appreciated when I bowled a good delivery. Their approach and attitude towards youngsters was commendable. And I learned a lot.
Did you do anything different to adapt to this format?
Not really. I stuck to the basics and didn’t try to do anything different in the middle. My efforts were directed towards the way I bowl,but I worked on some variations in the nets. There were no major changes in my bowling,just some variations.
Despite a great first-class debut,you didn’t get much opportunities for Mumbai,where you had to compete with two other left-arm spinners.
To be honest,I am to blame for that. After the World Cup,I broke my bowling finger. I played with it during the Irani Cup,but decided to take a break after the Duleep Trophy. By the time I was fit,Mumbai were close to qualifying. I was not picked for the remaining matches and didn’t feature in the T20 and one-dayers. I was fit,but didn’t get picked. Plus there were other competitors who had taken my spot.
How did the move to Vidarbha come about?
Mumbai is a wonderful side to play for,but my focus is to play for India and for that I need opportunities. I was not getting much with Mumbai,so when I got an offer from Vidharbha,I took it. It is a developing side and the presence of spinner Sairaj Bahutule will help me improve my game. My uncle stays there and my family will be in Mumbai only.