AFTER being snubbed by IPL franchises at the auction a few months ago, owing to a case of mistaken identity, Harpreet Singh Bhatia finally got a foothold in the league. Harpreet was drafted in by Royal Challengers Bangalore after the team lost the services of injured youngster Sarfaraz Khan, who had to undergo a knee surgery.
“I was planning to go to England, and had even submitted all my documents for visa. When I got the call. It was good news for me. If I get a chance, I will try to do my best. IPL is very big as everyone sees it,” Harpreet said. It was a huge relief for the Madhya Pradesh batsman who, on the day of the IPL-10 auction, suffered owing to a near namesake’s mistake. In February this year, an incorrect social media news update mixed up the names of one-time Mumbai left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh and in-form Madhya Pradesh batsman Harpreet Singh, which resulted in the latter losing a chance to be picked by an IPL franchise.
On the day of the IPL auction, several news feeds named Harpreet as the cricketer who was arrested earlier in the day for driving his car straight onto the platform of the Andheri railway station in Mumbai. It was, in fact, Harmeet who had allegedly broken the law.
The incorrect news updates were later corrected, but the damage had been done. Harpreet remained unsold at the auction, and the reason, according to a franchise representative, was the incorrect tweet about his arrest that he saw during the auction. A few franchises had shown interest in Harpreet, but they didn’t want to pick a player who — according to the news that they got — had just been booked by the cops.(Results | Fixtures | Points Table)
Both players — Harmeet (24) and Harpreet (25) — have represented India at the Junior World Cup and social media had put out photos of Harpreet then. “I’m mentally disturbed… Mera naam toh kharab ho gaya na (I have got a bad name). How can one clear that? I am getting calls from everyone asking what have you done. I was hoping to be picked up at the IPL auction… When my name came, the franchises must have felt why take a player who is in police custody. I am not bothered about IPL now, it’s gone. But even if you run a search on my name on Google, the first thing that comes up is that I was arrested,” Harpreet had told The Indian Express in February.
Before the auction, Harpreet was in rich vein of form and among the favourites to make it to the IPL. In the week before the auction, he was the top scorer in domestic cricket’s premier T20 tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Appearing for Central Zone, he aggregated 211 runs in four games, with a strike rate touching 145. His standout inning was a whirlwind 92 off 51 balls against South Zone. He also scored two other half centuries.
For Harpreet, the IPL dream seemed over and instead he was trying to play club county cricket in England. He had submitted his papers and was waiting for his visas. It was on Wednesday night that Harpreet got a call from RCB, asking him to report to Bangalore. He signed his papers on Thursday and joined the team practice session by afternoon.