On Thursday evening, Sanvir Singh, 22, got a text message from Yuvraj Singh. He was unbeaten on 63 runs at stumps after Punjab batted first in their opening Ranji Trophy match against Andhra Pradesh at Vizag. Yuvraj, who was sitting out for the game, wrote: “Well played”. Those two words meant a lot for Sanvir, who was one of the three Punjab debutants in this game along with spinners Mayank Markande and Arpit Pannu. On Friday, as the Patiala pace all-rounder became the latest Punjab batsman to score a century on debut, he spoke about the special message. Yuvraj’s “well played” inspired the youngster to play better, score 110, an inning that helped Punjab score 414. Andhra, at stumps, were 54/3.
“Yesterday, Yuvraj sir had sent me a message saying well played. As three of us making our debut, it always feels good to get such messages from a player like Yuvraj sir. There was no extra pressure but we were just excited to get our caps on the first day of the match. We have players like Jiwanjot Singh and Abhishek Gupta, who have scored double tons in their first-class debut, and they also told me to bat without any pressure. Mayank and I have played together for Patiala and our focus was rebuilding the innings and would also often discuss our bowling in between the breaks. Growing up, I always aspired to be like Jacques Kallis and the way he would bat and take wickets after playing long knocks. Hopefully, I can manage some wickets in this match after the century too,” shared the all-rounder.
Son of a office superintendent in Indian Railways in Patiala, Sanvir first took a liking to cricket after his mother Sharanjit Kaur brought a plastic bat for him. While father Sukhdev Singh used to be a renowned kabaddi player, Sanvir’s love for cricket would mean that Singh’s non-office hours would be spent bowling to Sanvir at their Railways colony home in Patiala.
The youngster later joined the DMW cricket academy under coaches Dilip Yadav and Kiran Kumar and first hit the headlines when he amassed 626 runs – that included a double century against Tamil Nadu – in the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2014-15 season. In next season, Sanvir became the highest scorer for Punjab during their title win in the Col CK Nayudu Trophy with 520 runs including two centuries and seven wickets. Before his Ranji Trophy debut, Sanvir was once again the top scorer for Punjab in Col CK Nayudu Trophy with 470 runs at an average of more than 65 and also took 12 wickets.
When the Singh’ family shifted to a new house in Aman Nagar in Patiala five years ago, it also meant that the youngster would train on the 700 square yard plot owned by the family opposite their new home. “I played kabaddi at the national level and was known for my partnership with Arjuna awardee player Balwinder, but Sanvir’s love for cricket made me a practice bowler,” says Sanvir’s father 50-year old Sukhdev Singh.
“He was so obsessed about batting that he would spend hours batting in our Railways home lobby and asking me to do the throw downs. Later, when we shifted to our new home, I bought a new plot also where we put the nets. A lot of friends have told me to sell or construct a building for giving on rent on the new plot but Sanvir’s passion for cricket is more than anything for us. And today when Sanvir smashed his first century on his debut, I told the friends that it’s the compound interest of the plot,” the father says.
Sanvir had come at the crease with Punjab’s score of 160 for 4 on Thursday and with skipper Mandeep Singh and Abhishek Gupta too departing before the team reached the 225-run mark, Sanvir first stitched together a 66-run partnership with Pannu before adding 77 runs with Markande, who too scored a half-century. Sanvir looted 40 runs, with six boundaries, off 50 balls he faced from the legspinner Karn Sharma. With Punjab scoring 414 in their first innings and Andhra Pradesh placed at 54 for 3 at the end of the day’s play, Punjab cricket manager Rajdeep Kalsi is all praise for Sanvir. “I have seen him bowl too during the last 2-3 years and that was one of the main reasons that we made him debut in the opening match. His strength has been his temperament and with the team placed at 206 for 6, his knock made the difference and meant that we can try for outright win. The century will boost his bowling too and we hope that he can star with the ball too.”
Brief Scores: Punjab 414 all out in 156.2 ovs (Mandeep Singh 68, Shubman Gill 56, Sanvir Singh 110; Bandaru Ayyappa 3/78, KV Sharma 3/115) vs Andhra 54/3 in 26 ovs (Ricky Bhui 12 batting; Siddarth Kaul 1/14)