The curious case of Harmeet Singh
India U-19 World Cup star frustrated with lack of opportunities at domestic level
Harmeet Singh is becoming a curious case in Indian cricket. One of the stars of the 2012 U-19 World Cup triumph in Australia, the left-arm spinner is now left wondering why he was not given adequate opportunities at the domestic level.
After not being picked in the Ranji Trophy-winning Mumbai squad, he was ignored for the Ajit Agarkar-led Mumbai team that plays the inter-state one-day tournament in Pune from today.
Harmeet couldn’t even find a place in the Mumbai University team. “I expected a place in the Mumbai one-day squad and the University team at least. Am I so bad that I cannot be included in any of the teams?” asked Harmeet during a chat with MiD DAY yesterday.
“After the U-19 World Cup, I got injured (finger injury). I was asked to prove my fitness in the two U-25 games where I bowled 25 to 30 overs. Though I didn’t get wickets in those matches, I bowled at a decent economy rate.
“I was then down with viral fever for two weeks and lost out on playing a few local matches. By then, Mumbai had already reached the knockout stage (in the Ranji Trophy),” the 20-year-old said.
Harmeet’s talent impressed former Australia captain and MiD DAY columnist Ian Chappell, who remarked that the Mumbai lad reminded him of India spin great Bishan Singh Bedi. He also advocated that Harmeet and skipper Unmukt Chand be drafted into the senior India team.
After a good showing at the World Cup, it was fair to expect Harmeet to be part of the Mumbai team. “Many people asked me why I did not play for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. I just kept quiet because I had nothing to say,” said Harmeet, who made a spectacular first-class debut, grabbing a seven-wicket match haul for Mumbai against Himachal Pradesh in 2009-10.
He played one more match that season before taking his maiden fifer in his third match against Tamil Nadu in the 2010-11 season. He has been ignored since. Harmeet was confident of getting a look-in after claiming four for 45 for Rest of India in the Irani Cup against 2011-12 Ranji champions Rajasthan.
Though he did not have a good Challenger Trophy (one wicket in three matches for India ‘B’), Harmeet picked up four wickets in a Duleep Trophy match for West Zone.
Last November, against an England Performance Programme team that had the likes of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Craig Kieswetter, Harmeet claimed two for 127 and scored 25 runs for DY Patil Academy at Nerul.
Recently, he played the DY Patil T20 Cup, claiming five wickets in as many games for his employers Air India. “I may not have got many wickets, but I didn’t concede more than three-four runs an over (in that tournament). I just need one good season. I have been training hard, working on new deliveries and variations. I am also working on my batting and was able to win the last few matches for Air India with the bat. But I need opportunities. At least give me a chance and then decide my fate. I will be happy that I tried my best,” pleaded Harmeet.
Harmeet, who was recently signed by Rajasthan Royals, is banking on the Indian Premier League to thrive once again. “It is going to be crucial for me. I am hoping for a turnaround if I do well in the IPL. Rahul Sir (Dravid) called me before I signed the contract. He told me I will get enough opportunities,” he said.
The IPL will keep Harmeet busy for two months. But what next? “I don’t know. This season has almost gone waiting for an opportunity. I don’t know how much I can wait in the next season. I have to think about my future now,” Harmeet signed off.