New Delhi: Having first made an impression playing for India U-19, Mandeep Singh became a household name after playing some impressive knocks for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. Considering his notable performance in the shortest format of the game over the last few years, one would think that the middle-order batsman from Punjab loves plying his trade in the cash-rich league.
But speaking to MAIL TODAY, two days ahead of Punjab’s crucial semi-final match against Karnataka, Mandeep said that he rates the domestic four-day tournament in the country much higher than the IPL.
While the statement could raise quite a few eyebrows — considering his success rate in the T20 league — Mandeep is quick to explain that succeeding in the Ranji Trophy is crucial for a player to break into the Indian Test team — his ultimate goal.
“I believe that the IPL is one of the best platforms for young cricketers in the country. But I rate the Ranji Trophy higher as I ultimately want to play Test cricket for India and there is no better preparatory ground for the longest format of the game than this tournament,” he said.
While he is the second highest run-getter this season for Punjab, Mandeep feels that he could have done better. “To be honest, I am not too pleased with my performance this season. I have done well here and there, but the consistency factor has been missing. But thankfully, I am peaking at the right time and my knocks of 80 against Delhi and 101 against J& K in the quarter-final gave me a lot of confidence and I feel the best has been saved for our last two matches of the tournament — semi-final and final,” the 22-year-old said.
The presence of seniors always helps and going into the business end of the tournament, Mandeep feels it augurs well to have the services of experienced campaigners like Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh to guide the relatively young team.
“It always helps because the little inputs that senior players give can change the way a youngster approaches the game. I have myself benefitted from their suggestions. They are champion performers and can lift the morale of the team with their mere presence,” he said.
Commenting on Kings XI Punjab’s surprise decision to retain Manan Vohra over himself, Mandeep said: “I am grateful to them for giving me an opportunity at a very early stage in my career and I have enjoyed every bit of playing for them. I am confident that they will bid for me in the auction. But as of now, it is all about winning the semi-final against Karnataka.”