“I can relate to his pain,” Mandeep told TOI. Just like Siraj – who chose to stay back with the squad after his father died barely a week after the Indian squad landed in Australia in November last year — Mandeep, too, made some tough decisions.
In October last year, Mandeep lost his father, Hardev Singh, while playing for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the Indian Premier League in Dubai. Within a few hours of his death, an emotional Mandeep came out to play for his franchise, taking another step in fulfilling his late father’s dying wish to see his son make a comeback to the Indian cricket team.
On January 16, Mandeep’s wife, Jagdeep Jaswal, who is in London with her parents, gave birth to their first child. Mandeep had to miss one of his life’s most memorable moments. This because he was leading Punjab in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Bangalore at that time.
A couple of days later, he scored an unbeaten 99 against Tripura, cementing Punjab’s quarterfinals spot.
“It has been quite a few months for me. I was in a very tight spot. My wife told me the next couple of years are crucial for my career, and cricket should be my priority. Never in my life I had ever thought that I would have to take such strong decisions,” said Mandeep.
“I will have to live with the guilt of missing my father’s funeral and the birth of my son. I am not able to sleep properly. However, I am happy that my wife and son are in good health,” he said.
Very happy for @mandeeps12 specially more today cause this one for his father watching him from the heavens above 🙏… https://t.co/wCYCqprOef
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) 1603733389000
Mandeep might have to wait a little longer to see his son as there is still uncertainty over the domestic schedule. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to call on whether it will be possible to host Ranji Trophy or the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“They can’t come to India for at least three months, and I will have to go. I am waiting for the BCCI’s announcement on Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare so that I can go and come back before the IPL. There are lots of uncertainties, and I don’t know what to do,” said Mandeep.
However, Mandeep has marshalled his troops well as the Punjab team is unbeaten in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. They have won all their five matches and will take on defending champions Karnataka on January 26 in the quarterfinals. Punjab had defeated them in the group stage.
Mandy paaji looks up, a tribute to his father 🙌WHAT. A. KNOCK. 👏#SaddaPunjab #IPL2020 #KXIP #KKRvKXIP https://t.co/QcZYvCkBcm
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) 1603732563000
“I have always believed that this is the trophy we can win. They (Punjab players) are young but not inexperienced; most of them are regular for their IPL teams. In a four-day game, we might lack experience, but I believe we are a strong team in the shorter format,” said Mandeep.
Punjab batsmen have been in rich form in the tournament, but according to Mandeep, their bowlers have made the unit formidable.
Tough times bring out the best in winners! You were strong then, you’re even stronger now, @mandeeps12. Your father… https://t.co/a5crZcLoZm
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) 1603734586000
“We have got match-winner bowlers in our side. The experience of Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma is invaluable. Arshdeep has been a revelation for us. Our spinners Harpreet Brar and Mayank Markande have been superb. Then we have part-timers in Gurkeerat Mann, Abhishek Sharma, Ramandeep Singh and myself. I am lucky to have such a bowling depth in my team,” said Mandeep.
“We had reached the knockout stage earlier also, but we want to go all the way this time,” he said.