The past couple of days have been an emotional roller coaster for the 28-year old Mandeep Singh, who after finding out about his father’s demise made a brave decision to stay back in UAE and finish the tournament with KXIP.
On Monday, he opened alongside KL Rahul while chasing a total of 149 runs against Kolkata Knight Riders and was a part of the match-winning partnership of 100 runs with Chris Gayle.
He scored his 50 off 49 balls and his celebration- holding the bat high and looking heavenwards- was an emotional tribute to his late father and it moved the players and the viewers alike. He went on to finish the match with an unbeaten 66 off 56 balls with the help of 8 boundaries and 2 sixes.
“My father always used to tell me to remain not out in every game – I finished the game and this is definitely for him,” Mandeep said after the match. “He always used to tell me, whether you score 100 or 200, you should be not out.”
Talking about his partnership with Gayle, Mandeep said “He asked me to keep without worrying and play till the end”.
Earlier he had taken the field only hours after learning about his father’s death on Saturday and scored 17 runs off 14 balls giving Punjab a solid start in a low-scoring thriller against SRH. KXIP came from nowhere and pulled off a dramatic SRH-batting collapse.
KL Rahul had dedicated the team’s win to Mandeep’s late father. The 68 year old Hardev Singh – a former athletics coach- was battling a liver disease and was admitted in a hospital in Mohali.
“I had a talk with (KL) Rahul before the start of the game. Last game I was trying to score quicker and I wasn’t comfortable doing that,” Mandeep said.
“I told Rahul if I play my normal game, I will win the game and I had the belief. He (Rahul) told me to back my game and play the way I want to play, pretty happy with the win.”
Halfway through the tournament, KXIP were placed right at the bottom of the points table but they scripted a dramatic turn-around by registering five consecutive wins and are looking very comfortable to seal the fourth spot to the play-offs.
Mandeep’s grit and determination attracted a lot of much deserved appreciation his way and many cricketers and members of the cricket fraternity took to social media to laud his bravery.