Mumbai: Punjab cricketer Mandeep Singh joins the list of five uncapped players in India’s squad for the tour of Zimbabwe beginning with the first ODI on June 11. The 24-year-old all-rounder stole the limelight after his impressive show in the Under-19 World Cup in 2010. He was one of the top run-getters for India in the competition.
Mandeep, who made his first-class debut on November 17, 2010 against Himachal Pradesh, credits his Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli for inspiring him as a cricketer and he wishes to emulate Kohli’s skills.
Virat told me how I can better my front foot play. I used to be with him so I learnt how to better my fielding and fitness. How Virat has improved his batting has really inspired me. I also want to up my fitness to the level of Virat’s because when I play T20 I too want to bring to the table such kind of fitness levels and batting skills,” said Mandeep, who joined the Bengaluru outfit last year.
“Basu (Shankar) sir (Strength and Conditioning coach of RCB) used to tell me that I am the fittest player in the team after Virat,” he added.
South African star AB de Villiers also provided valuable inputs to the rookie player. “AB told me ways on how to keep my head still while playing,” Mandeep said.
So how are preparations going ahead of the tour? “When I was in the RCB camp I practiced for a long time in the nets. I have improved my fitness levels a lot in the last two months. I also practiced at the NCA in Bangalore with the bowling machine,” he added.
With 57 first-class matches coupled with a healthy batting average of 43.51, the talented batsman has been knocking on Team India’s door for a while now and this tour could well be Mandeep’s claim to fame.
I have been doing really well in the T20 format from the past two-three seasons. I have been part of the World Cup probables twice in 2012 and 2014 as well. I was there in the mix so finally the call came and it feels good,” Mandeep said.
Mandeep won the ‘Rising Star of IPL’ award in 2012 after he amassed 432 runs for Kings XI Punjab that season. But the swashbuckling batsman has managed to feature in only one game in the last season.
Yes, I was feeling a bit disappointed. Even coach Daniel Vettori told me that we are feeling bad that you are not playing. But then it was not in my hand so it was no point thinking about it,” he said.