The Bollywood hit Kaala Chashma plays on a loudspeaker in the background as the phone is tossed from one person to another. "Sorry, sir. This was unexpected, everyone has suddenly started a party here," Prabhsimran Singh, the 18-year old Punjab wicketkeeper, says as he strains his ears to get to the other end of the telephone call. His world hasn't quite been the same since he returned from a training session after a long Tuesday afternoon siesta.
A contract worth INR 4.8 crores from Kings XI Punjab was least on his mind as he was driving home along with older cousin Anmolpreet Singh, after the three-hour nets near their family home in Patiala. Not having played first-class or T20 cricket, he didn't even know if his name had made it to the final shortlist of 351. Four hours into the auction, he was reaching out for the phone charger amid a large gathering of friends and family who were feeding them mithai (sweets).
It wasn't just Prabhsimran's IPL contract they were celebrating. Just an hour earlier, Anmolpreet had been picked up for INR 80 lakhs by Mumbai Indians. The joint family then decided to throw open their house to the neighborhood.
In June, Prabhsimran channeled his frustration of not being picked for India Under-19 by hitting 298 off just 301 balls in an Under-23 inter-district game against Amritsar. He shared a double-century stand in that game with Anmolpreet. In the following month, he was called for an NCA camp and eventually was named captain of the India Under-19 side that toured Bangladesh for the Asia Cup.
Prabhsimran had little idea that he was being watched closely by IPL talent scouts on television when he smashed a 33-ball half-century against Sri Lanka in Mirpur. He peppered the big square boundaries on the leg side with ease. It was only when he was called for trials that he know it was that knock which impressed teams.
"I was called by Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals but I had to turn them down because I was playing the Under-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy for Punjab. "My realistic aim was to make the India Under-19 team, so I didn't really think about the IPL. I don't know how to react now, I'm not able to believe teams really bid so much for me. After a certain stage, I was like 'yaar (man), I don't even know how many zeroes are there!' I was in fact more happy that Anmol had been picked, I'd started playing because of him."
In September, Prabhsimran was asked to bat at the Kings XI Punjab trials in Mohali and given two scenarios. The first entailed a chase of 100 in 10 overs, and another needing 75 off eight overs. He responded by making half-centuries off 19 and 29 balls respectively in the two instances. Mike Hesson, the head coach, gave him words of encouragement, which Prabhsimran thought was words spoken to any youngster to boost their confidence. "At that time, I thought I've done my best, if I'm picked, good, if I'm not picked I'll work harder."
Growing up in a joint family, the brothers who both turned out to be batsmen, needed someone to bowl at them. As it turned out, their fathers took turns to give them practice. When the noise would turn into a distraction for the family, the boys would quietly go out and play with the colony friends. Today, the same friends demanded both throw them a party because it was a reunion of sorts.
It was only last week Prabhsimran returned from Sri Lanka after a stint with the India Emerging team that finished runners-up to the hosts. Anmolpreet, meanwhile, flew home to India last week after a stint with the India A team that played three 50-over matches in New Zealand.
"His influence rubbed off on me," Prabhsimran says. "I took to the game hearing the sound of him batting against the wall and playing. So in a way, both our journeys have come along side-by-side. When we're at home, it's mostly cricket talk. We also train together when we aren't with our respective teams."
An attacking opening batsman, Anmolpreet shot into prominence during the Under-19 World Cup in 2016, where he was the Player of the Match in India's semi-final win over Sri Lanka. He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Punjab last year and has already made three hundreds in 11 first-class matches. He finished his debut season with 753 runs at an average of 125.50
"When my name came up, we stopped the car on the side of the road, and kept watching," Anmolpreet said." When there was an opening bid, I was relieved. It didn't matter how much money I'd go for after that, because at this age, you want opportunities to play. At the start of the year, if someone told me I'd play for India A under Rahul Dravid and then be a part of a team having legends like Mahela Jayawardene and Sachin Tendulkar, I wouldn't have believed it. It feels amazing."