We had no egos in the team: Harmeet Singh

Even though trophies are won through a collective effort, there will always be a set of players who end up playing a greater role in the team’s success. Mumbai’s Harmeet Singh was one such individual who played his role well as India triumphed at the U-19 World Cup last year.

So excited were pundits, that an expert as prominent as Ian Chappell, who was in the commentary team for the tournament, felt the left-arm spinner was a re-incarnation of the legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi.

Harmeet Singh celebrates a New Zealand wicket in the U-19 World Cup semi-final in 2012. Pic/Getty Images

However, one year post the euphoria, Harmeet has been in the news in off-field matters rather than for his performances on the ground. At the moment, he is battling the after-effects of the spot fixing scandal that rocked IPL-VI and is amongst the prominent prosecution witnesses.

What’s more, the scandal has resulted in the youngster from Borivli struggling to break into a Ranji Trophy team. Having obtained an NOC from Mumbai, he was headed for Vidarbha, but the administrators seem to have developed cold feet there.

MiD DAY caught up with Harmeet who reflected on the highs and lows he has undergone after that memorable triumph a year ago.

On the success of the 2012 U-19 team in Australia…
All the players knew each other for the past three years. We were a part of three tours before the World Cup. The emphasis was on gelling well. It was like a family later on. The players, coaches and other support staff had been together for quite a long time. We would hardly go home. We were either playing a tournament or attending a camp. We had formed a great bond by the time the World Cup began.

We had just one goal to achieve: Win the World Cup. The best part about the team was that there were no egos. Everyone was open to suggestions. You did not have to think twice before giving a suggestion to the skipper or anyone in the team. All players backed each other. We were nervous, but not overawed by the occasion. We had identified our special mates in the team. My go-to men were Unmukt Chand (skipper) and Kamal Passi. Whenever I felt pressure, I would approach them and they would help me calm down.

On the belief which led to the World Cup win…
The quarter-final win against Pakistan really boosted our confidence. It was a perfect way to start the knockout stage. We had won convincingly in the league stage, but the match against Pakistan gave us the momentum we were looking for. It was a thriller (India won by one wicket). That match showed how eager we were to win the trophy.

On the final…
It was the moment we were waiting for. We were not really aware of what people were talking about before the match. We were determined to give our best shot. I felt Australia were under more pressure than us. We also had fantastic fan-support (at Townsville). It was great to see Indian supporters outnumbering the Aussies. The Indian fans made most of the noise. They backed us well.

On his career post the World Cup win…
I have been unlucky. I had an injury on my bowling finger. I haven’t played many games thereafter to prove myself. I played two first-class matches after the World Cup where I picked up eight wickets. Then the injury kept me out for a few months. On returning to cricket, I did not get too many opportunities. But I am staying patient. I know my chance will come and I am waiting for it. I have age on my side, which is an advantage.

On whether he got carried away by the success…
I don’t think that was the case. Even after the World Cup win, I knew what I had to achieve. My mistake was that I kept pushing despite the injury. I had no clue how serious it was. I have learnt my lessons. 

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