Harmeet Singh acknowledges teachers' help

Mumbai’s India U-19 World Cup winner Harmeet Singh was felicitated by his alma mater Swami Vivekanand International School (Borivli) yesterday. The left-arm spinner said that had it not been for the support of his teachers, he could never have been a world champion.

Autograph, please: Harmeet Singh signs bats of school cricketers during a felicitation programme by Swami Vivekanand International School in Borivli yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Excerpts from an interview

Are you satisfied with your contribution to India’s U-19 world cup-winning campaign?
We had a shaky start (losing to West Indies in the opener), but, that defeat actually spurred us on and we won all our matches after that. Personally, I think I did quite well. Against WI, I bowled well (taking three wickets for 35 runs), but thereafter I was down with fever and missed the next two league matches (vs Zimbabwe & Papua New Guinea).

I directly played the quarter-final against Pakistan, where I bowled decently (taking one for 20) and even batted well (scoring 13 not out batting alongside last man Sandeep Sharma to help India win by one wicket). Then, against New Zealand (semi-final) too I took two crucial wickets (two for 30).

What was gong through your mind during the tense final moments of the Pakistan clash?
In the end, when (last man) Sandeep (Sharma) joined me at the crease, we still needed another 10 runs to win.
I told him that whatever the result of this match, we should not be making a mistake that we will regret for life. As per our plan, Sandeep was to defend and I was to hit along the ground only. Thankfully, it worked.

Australia legend Ian Chappell recently said that you’re a better bowler than Harbhajan Singh. How do you feel about that?
I obviously take that as a compliment but I don’t compare myself to any other bowler or spinner around the world.

Recently, your captain Unmukt Chand was not allowed to give his exams due to low attendance. Do you think it’s fair to treat a sportsman like that?
I don’t think I can comment on that but personally I’ve been very fortunate to have a school and college that supported me throughout. I did not have to pay any fees throughout as everything was taken care of thanks to (SVIS director) Yogesh Patel and Jitendra Singh (Thakur College director). I also got a lot of help from my teachers, who would stay back after class to help me with my studies. They also held exams separately for me. Without that kind of support, it’s impossible to excel in sport. 

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