On Saturday evening, when Kings XI Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh geared up to open the innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Dubai International Stadium, UAE, it was an emotional walk for him to the 22-yard-pitch. The right-handed batsman from Jalandhar had lost his father 68-year-old former athletics coach Hardev Singh Friday night and attended the last rites through a video call Saturday afternoon.
The Kings XI Punjab team took to the field wearing black arm bands to mourn the death of Hardev Singh, a former district sports officer with Punjab sports department who had been suffering from liver infection and was on ventilator support at a Mohali hospital where he breathed his last.
On Saturday, Mandeep played a knock of 17 runs off 14 balls. While social media hailed Mandeep’s dedication and grit, his elder brother Harvinder Singh said it was the toughest decision that the Punjab batsman had ever taken.
“We informed Mandeep about our father’s death last night. He was inconsolable, but said later, ‘I will play the match as that’s what father would have loved to see’. It has been tough for Mandeep today but we are sure our father would have been watching him play from heavens,” said Harvinder Singh (36), who too had been a cricketer.
“Our father loved sports and spent his whole life coaching athletes. Initially like any other father, he was against Mandeep taking up cricket. But once Mandeep showed his brilliance playing for junior teams, he supported Mandeep more than anybody else. He would always make sure that he watched every innings of Mandeep. It brought him the biggest joy,” added Harvinder.
Mandeep, who started playing cricket at the Burlton Park Stadium in Jalandhar would often train with Harvinder. Mandeep went to become the vice-captain of Indian U-19 team in the ICC U-19 World Cup in 2010. The same year, he was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL before being picked up by Kings XI Punjab in 2011. In 2012, Mandeep was declared as the rising star of the IPL with an aggregate of 432 runs in 16 matches. Saturday’s match was Mandeep’s 101st in the IPL and the batsman has so far scored a total of 1579 runs. According to Harvinder, seeing Mandeep make his debut for India against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2016 remained Hardev Singh’s most cherished memory. “Our father always told us to focus on fitness. He had been a long distance runner in his younger days. He would also go for a run with us at Burlton Park Stadium, where we stayed in the government quarters. I used to be a fast bowler and would often bowl to Mandeep in nets. Our father was very happy when Mandeep wore the vice-captain’s blazer for the U-19 World Cup. He never missed any of Mandeep’s matches on TV,” said Harvinder.
While Mandeep joined the Kings XI Punjab camp in UAE two months ago and has been staying in bio-bubble, Hardev Singh, who had been suffering from liver cirrhosis, was admitted to Jalandhar hospital On October 14 after his health deteriorated. The family brought Hardev Singh to a Mohali hospital earlier this week. The 68-year-old underwent a surgery too before he was put on ventilator support. “He was suffering from liver cirrhosis for some time but the condition worsened last month before the emergence of ulcers, which led to liver and kidney infection. We took him to Mohali earlier this week and he underwent a surgery as the infection had spread. He was on ventilator support since the last two days before passing away. The cremation was done Saturday and the antim ardas will be done once Mandeep returns after the IPL,” said Harvinder.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines