Batting for Dad!

Sharjah, October 27

Punjab’s Mandeep Singh, who has been showered with affection and praise for bravely focussing on cricket after the recent death of his father, yet again showed his mental fortitude on Monday night.

Mandeep talks to Kolkata Knight Riders’ Shubman Gill after the match. PTI

The Kings XI Punjab opener scored an unbeaten 66 off 56 balls, adding 100 runs for the second with Chris Gayle, to help their team easily beat Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets.

His father, Hardev Singh, a former Punjab Sports Department official, had been suffering from a liver infection and died in a Mohali hospital on Friday evening. Mandeep attended his last rites through a video call.

Playing his second match after his father’s death, an emotional Mandeep said he wanted to follow his father’s instructions on the field. “My father used to tell me that ‘you should remain not out in every game’ and that is what I wanted to do today,” Mandeep said after KXIP’s win.

Finishing the game

“Even before the game I spoke to Rahul (team captain), that ‘let me play my game, even if I take few balls I can win games for the team’. I think my father would be really happy that I finished the game,” Mandeep said.

On Saturday, Mandeep had taken the field against Sunrisers Hyderabad and when he went into the middle, some of the opposing team players condoled with him. They included Sunrisers leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who himself had lost his father while playing in Australia’s Big Bash League two years ago.

Skipper KL Rahul said the mental toughness shown by Mandeep has rubbed off on the entire squad.

“It’s so hard when you are away from your family. With the bubble, you don’t have the close ones. The kind of toughness he (Mandeep) has shown has rubbed off on other boys as well,” Rahul said.

“The way he played today, it makes everyone emotional. He’s gone through a rough time… Just to put his hand up, be there and finish the game for the team would make him proud and make his father proud,” Rahul added. — TNS, agencies

Gayle factor

Chris Gayle, who made 51 off 29 balls, was not included in the playing XI in the initial few matches. KXIP haven’t lost a match after his return, taking full points from five matches in a row. Rahul said Gayle, who has made 53, 24, 29, 20 and 51 in their five wins, was very determined to perform. “It was a very hard decision not to play him (Chris) because he was batting really well. This is the hungriest I have ever seen him in the last seven-eight years that I have played with him. He is running his ones and twos, so that’s refreshing,” Rahul said. “He’s always positive, always pushing the youngsters. It’s great to have someone with that much experience.”

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