ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Indian Premier League 2012

Mandeep in the fast lane

Mandeep Singh's success is largely due to his ability to play fast bowling. He has outscored his Australian team-mates in Kings XI Punjab and hopes to play for India soon

Tariq Engineer

May 14, 2012

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

Mandeep Singh made his second Twenty20 half-century, Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Chennai, April 28, 2012
Mandeep Singh: "The Ranji Trophy is a high level but if you play IPL, you get to play the best bowlers from around the world" © AFP
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Players/Officials: Mandeep Singh

When Paul Valthaty, last season's surprise IPL success, struggled to replicate his form this year, Kings XI Punjab turned to 20-year-old Mandeep Singh to shore up their top order. It was just the opportunity Mandeep had been waiting for. Despite his youth, Mandeep was a prolific scorer in domestic cricket - he has made 1,074 runs at an average of 63.17 over two seasons and knew his profile would rise if he could make an impact in the IPL. It would potentially catapult him into the conversation for places in the India squad.

"[My] Ranji performance has been good the last two years but if you do well in the IPL, hopefully you will get noticed," Mandeep told ESPNcricinfo. "I want to play for India as soon as I can and for as long as I can."

Mandeep started steadily with a number of 20s and 30s in the IPL but has found another gear recently, making 56, 43 and 75 in three of his last five innings, with Kings XI winning each of those games. He has also quietly worked his way up the IPL's list of top scorers and is currently in 10th place, ahead of his more illustrious Australian team-mates, David Hussey and Shaun Marsh.

His performances have already made an impression. Following his 48-ball 75 against Deccan Chargers last Tuesday, Hussey, who has been standing in as captain in the absence of the injured Adam Gilchrist, called Mandeep "a very special player" and someone who could do well for India in all three forms of the game. Mandeep's great strength, Hussey said, is his ability to hit good balls to the boundary with ease.

Mandeep puts his success down to his ability to play fast bowling well. "However fast someone bowls, it doesn't make much difference to me," he said. "I got the chance to open because the team knows I play fast bowling well. Still, the main thing is that I play freely and don't worry about any tension that I need to play fast or do certain things. However well I can use the first six overs, I should use them."

This ability to play fast bowling is not something Mandeep takes for granted. It has been honed through many hours of practice. He sets the bowling machine to speeds of 85 to 90 mph and practices with a tennis ball to learn how to combat swing. He has also been taking throwdowns from Gilchrist using a rubber ball. "Gilly throws them hard from 15 to 16 yards and that is very effective," Mandeep said.

One of the benefits of the IPL for young domestic players from India is the exposure to international players and Mandeep is no exception. Hussey and Gilchrist have been teaching him how to approach his batting while Azhar Mahmood has been another valuable resource. "This is a big deal for young players that you can sit with these guys and learn from them," Mandeep said.

Having to take guard against some of the best opening bowlers in the world, like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, has been another cherished learning experience. "You get an idea about what is needed at the highest level," Mandeep said. "You are not blank. The Ranji Trophy is a high level but if you play IPL, you get to play the best bowlers from around the world and you get an idea of what it takes to play international cricket."

This season, Mandeep is enjoying his chance to shine, but there was a time when his cricketing future hung in the balance. A diehard fan of Sachin Tendulkar since he was a young boy, Mandeep used to watch Tendulkar and try and imitate the way he played. At the age of 11, he joined the Jalandhar Cricket Academy to chase his dream of playing cricket professionally, but his father, an athletics coach, did not greet his son's decision with much enthusiasm. He felt his son had made a risky choice and would rather he become a doctor instead, like his elder brother. But Mandeep had the talent and the dedication and was quickly amongst the runs, setting his father's mind at rest. "Once I started to do well, he supported me a lot."

Mandeep eventually found himself touring Australia as part of the Under-19 team in 2009 and marked himself as one for the future when he cracked a match-winning 151 in the second one-dayer at the Bellerive Oval . He was then named the vice-captain for the U-19 World Cup held in New Zealand in 2010 and made his first-class debut for Punjab in November later that year, making an unbeaten 53 batting at No. 7, the top score of the innings. Along with Abhimanyu Mithun and fellow U-19 team-mate Harpreet Singh, Mandeep was awarded the Border-Gavaskar scholarship for 2010 and spent two-weeks training at Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence in Brisbane.

While his performances for Kings XI this year have not come with the same pyrotechnics as a Chris Gayle or Virender Sehwag, Mandeep has been crucial in keeping his team in the playoff picture. If he continues to perform in the same vein, his dream of playing India may not be all that far off.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 9 
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Posted by Naresh on (May 15, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

Its good to see some youngsters emerging. I like Rohit Sharma's batting. The IPL has openned eyes to indian talent. Some are playing fast bowlers as well their foreign counterparts. The real test will come on foreign pitches. BCCI should invest in pitches with high bounce to improve Indian batting. Also we need young quality bowlers. I wait for the next Kapil Dev. Rahane, Rayudu and now Mandeep can link up with Kohli and Sharma to make a good future team.

Posted by Aswin on (May 15, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

i am a big fan of this batsman he has shown composure against quality opening bowlers in the ipl but more importantly he has scored loads of runs in da domestic circuit

and forget the stats he is CLASSY and a fantastic player of fast bowling

Posted by Rajapandiyan on (May 15, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

I wonder why everyone hate CSK and tamilnadu people throughout india. there is only one player from the TN team representing India but still everyone are talking "u should be from TN or CSK to represent our national team" ... it was in the auction, CSK took all these players and not from the Tamilnadu team.....(who represent India).....,once, the whole Indian team was fully filled with players from Mumbai,karnataka and none from TN.. remember that......

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 15, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

I must say that kxip must concentrate on a world class fast bowler,and some young indian talents,thay played nitin saini,mandeep singh,shaun marsh david hussey, gurkeerat singh,siddharth chitnis,azhar mahmood,piyush chawla,awana,kumar and harris in last match,bt some changes must be made,valthahty should madk a come back and he may be very useful ....he may replace chitnis.........they must purchase any fast bowling sensation like vernon philander,james anderson,tremlett,bresnan,dareen sammy. or any fast bowler of aus,eng,sa,wi!!!

Posted by Shakti on (May 15, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

He handles the short ball quite easily at Mohali,which has had a bit grass on it always.He has a touch elegance & handles swing decently.Ajinkya Rahane,Mandeep Singh & Cheteshwar Pujara seem to handle the short ball the best of all the newer Indians.Suresh Raina,Manoj Tiwary & even Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma struggle with the short ball at times.Raina is obviously the one that struggles the most.The question is whether these players will get A tour oppurtunities in Australia,England & S.A & get test debuts.

Posted by RAVINDER on (May 15, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

And unlike most Indian batsmen he plays the pull shot (not hook shot) very well like he has done in IPL.He doesn't slog like S.Tiwary and few others but plays very conventional shots like Rahane.On the top of it he is excellent fielder in the class of Yuvi,Virat,Raina,Kaif which is good for his chances to play for India.But the way BCCI is running cricket affairs in India he has to play for CSK once to play in Blue colors. BTW is there still a cap on uncapped Indian players how much money they can get?If it is still there then this is gross injustice players like him and Raidu and boon for players like S.Tiwary.

Posted by Sajin on (May 15, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

I was quite surprised when he was mentioned as a possible replacement for Rahul Dravid, however, i was shocked to hear that he has not picked for India 'A' Tour to West Indies. But now the way he is scoring the runs with conventional cricket strokes, he is definitely a future for Indian cricket especially in Tests and ODI's. Hope BCCI Selectors will take a fair page from his performance and reward him with an Indian cap.

Posted by Sam on (May 14, 2012, 16:10 GMT)

Mandeep is definitely one to watch in the coming years. Hopefully he can make the T20 or ODI squads. I've been cheering for him this IPL and can't wait to see him hit the big time.

Posted by Satish on (May 14, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

The best compliment to him was "Now, DC are favorites" When he got out.. With Azhar, David Hussey left, this guy was the trump card according to many.. They did win without him but he just created an aura out of nowhere.. Rahane has a loads of runs in domestic to look on and his success in IPL is a long time pending one but Mandy succeeding was the best thing to happen from Indian perspective.. Addin, Awana's bowling..

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