Manpreet Singh Gony has become a star in Chennai. No sooner than the strapping youngster ventures out of his hotel than he is mobbed by fans.
"I can’t move around here without security; people mob me wherever I go. I never thought I would ever get so much love and admiration so far away from home," Gony said, clearly enjoying his newfound stardom.
Now, that’s something what almost every youngster doing well in the IPL might be experiencing, but Gony’s story is different because he had given up on cricket sometime ago. He felt he had no future in the sport and stopped playing for some time. Had it not been for his coach and mates, he would have been lost to cricket.
"Punjab had a pretty decent line of fast bowlers and I was just not getting a chance to get into the state side," he said. "Frustrated, I stopped playing altogether, but my coach Sukhwinder Tinku and friends kept talking to me and coaxed me back to the nets."
Another person associated with the Punjab Cricket Association said Gony didn’t seem very serious about his career and was irregular during that time.
"But now we are absolutely elated over his success," he said, not wanting to be named.
Gony’s time changed with an exodus of sorts from Punjab to the Indian Cricket League in the last season. "There was never any doubt about his talent, but he wasn’t getting a chance to play for the state," said Tinku. "But he got his chance when many Punjab players went to the ICL, and he had a decent opening season in the Ranji Trophy."
Another stroke of luck saw Chennai inviting him to join them in the IPL. He wasn’t in their actual scheme of things, but after Sudeep Tyagi, the Uttar Pradesh bowler who was their first choice, got injured, they replaced him with Gony.
It was on the recommendation of Bhupinder Singh Senior, the national selector, that VB Chandrashekar, the Chennai official, watched Gony in the Deodhar Trophy. He was impressed with the tall and sturdy bowler. Soon, he was drafted into the side. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gony is thrilled with the turn of events. "All I wanted in my life was to play cricket, and I’m glad that I have got a chance to play with the top international stars, and that’s when I had almost given up cricket," he added.