Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
A little over a month ago, Gurkeerat Singh was at the heart of a nerveless chase, batting in the middle order during India A's tri-series final triumph over an in-form Australia A side. While the innings stood out for its poise, it was still premature to tag Gurkeerat with labels of 'finisher' or 'rescuer,' though he did have two other half-centuries in successful chases in List A cricket.
His 58-ball 65 in the first one-day game against Bangladesh A in Bangalore was not in a chase, but the innings conformed to a pattern. For the second successive match for India A, Gurkeerat showed the ability to remain undaunted by the pressures of a batting collapse.
After the game, Gurkeerat did not play up his accomplishments, though he had also taken a five-wicket haul in India A's 96-run victory. He even looked a little distracted at the press conference, perhaps wondering what the fuss was about - middle-order batting is his job-description and he merely wanted to get better at it.
"Actually I've been trying to build my space at this batting order," Gurkeerat said. "I've been playing for Punjab also at number six or five. So, you can say I'm used to it. I need to bat at these situations, when you have pressure on yourself."
Gurkeerat had an excellent Ranji Trophy last season, finishing as Punjab's highest scorer with 677 runs from 14 innings at an average of 56.41, including a hundred and five fifties.
There was, however, work to be done on his batting and Gurkeerat said he was talking to India A coach Rahul Dravid to sort out specific issues. He used the straight drive - lofted and along the ground - to telling effect against Bangladesh A, and acknowledged Dravid's role in perfecting the stroke.
"I think it's been great. I've been learning a lot from him, Rahul sir. He's been a great mentor for us," Gurkeerat said. "Whenever we have had some problem, especially me, in my batting or anything, I just went up to him and he was always ready to give his advice.
"Few things which I wanted to improve on, seeing my last Ranji Trophy season. I just wanted to know what shots to play in which situations. He was kind enough to offer me some tips. I was talking to him about my straight drives because my foot was going cross. I practised with him to get my foot right in the line of the ball."
Gurkeerat also revealed he had only recently recovered from an injury, and had been anxious coming into this series. "I got injured before this match. My webbing got torn. I was playing district matches after the final of the tri-series," he said. "After that I just came in and played two matches, my domestic inter-district matches [for Mohali] but I was a bit worried how I will, bat but everything went well. It's been 20-22 days [my recovery period]."
Gurkeerat said the middle order might not be the best position for amassing runs, but remained matter of fact about continuing to bat there. "In a way you have to play at some order, no? If you are not a top-order batsman, you have to go somewhere," he said, eliciting laughter in the room. "So, that's where I get to play."
Batting at No.6 is fraught with the danger of, as a journalist put it, making a "hero or zero," so why would he still want to play in such a difficult position? "Mushkil kaam karenge tabhi aage badhenge [Only if you take up difficult tasks will you progress]," he said with a smile. "I like playing under pressure. I think that brings the best in me."