For the last four years, a single thought has been guiding Harpreet Brar’s efforts in the Punjab under-19 inter-district tournaments (for minor districts), wherein the left-ar m spinner re presents Ropar: to pick up wickets in heap and reclaim his berth in the state team.
So far, Harpreet has been partly successful in his aim, managing to claim plenty of scalps in every inter-district event. But the dream to play for Punjab has still been elusive.
The 18-year-old is, however, hoping for a change in fortunes, especially after achieving one of the rare feats in the cricketing world.
Earlier this month , the youngster took 10 wickets in a single (second) innings during Ropar’s under-19 inter-district match against Hoshiarpur. Five wickets for Harpreet in the first innings, earlier, meant the bowler returned with 15 scalps, helping his side register outright win over the opposition. From all the five matches he played, the spinner, who was also captaining the team, collected 41 wickets.
Now, as every hardcore cricket fan must be aware, the most illustrated examples of a bowler dismissing all the 10 batsmen in an innings in higher echelons of cricket have been India’s Anil Kumble and England’s Jim Laker.
So what was Harpreet’s reaction after his own Top 10?
“I was aware about Anil Kumble’s spectacular 10 for 74 registered against Pakistan in 1999. And so, I was naturally ecstatic after having emulated something a legendary bowler like Kumble did so many years ago. At the same time, I was also confident about realising this feat after having narrowly missed the chance on a couple of previous occasions. The 10-wicket haul will always remain one of greatest moments of my career.”
Earlier, the closest Harpreet had reached the feat was in 2012 when he claimed nine wickets against Nawanshahr during a match of the under-22 interdistrict meet.
Har preet may be cherishing his latest bowling feat, but a rather interesting fact is that he started out as a batsman seven years ago. “After satisfying my initial itch through gully cricket, I started thinking seriously about the sport in 2007. I began training under coach Sanjeev Sharma at a school in Zirakpur, where I also used to bowl left-arm spin occasionally in the nets.”
Probably sensing that Harpreet would do much better as a bowler, Sharma sent the lad under the guidance of Punjab’s ex-Ranji spinner Bharti Vij at the latter’s academy in Sector 28, Chandigarh. For the last five years, Harpreet has been polishing his skills at the academy.
“That Bharti sir himself was a left-ar m spinner during his playing days has come handy in improving my bowling skills. In fact, his first hand experience in the field has tur ned out to be a mine of golden tips for me,” added Harpreet, who made his debut in competitive cricket through the under-16 inter-district tournament while representing Ropar. He finished the tournament with 12 wickets from four matches, in addition to some 250-odd runs.
A good show in his first interdistrict boosted Harpreet’s confidence, and he demonstrated it by claiming 23 wickets from the same number of matches in the succeeding year.
“My performance in the 201011 inter-district also earned me a berth in the U-16 state team for the Vijay Merchant Trophy. The following year, I started playing in the under-19 age-group tournaments and have been performing consistently well since then. But the state team berth remains elusive,” stressed the bowler, who had claimed 33 wickets in the last year’s inter-district and also claimed 42 wickets from five matches of the Katoch Shield Trophy.