On Sunday, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, busy fielding at the boundary against the Bangladesh A in the unofficial ODI series in Bangalore, suddenly felt a commotion in the dressing room. Few minutes later, the support staff and his teammates came out shouting his name and congratulating him. Mann had little clue about the happenings around him but when he finally did, he couldn’t hide back his emotions.
The all-rounder has been rewarded for his impressive recent performances with a berth in the Indian squad for the upcoming ODI series against the visiting South Africa. “The news came as a shock to me. I was expecting the call but not that soon. I thought maybe the selectors wanted to see more before handing me the cap. Rahul Dravid sir (India A coach) congratulated me upon my return to the dressing room,” said Mann while talking to Hindustan Times over phone.
What sets Mohali cricketer apart has been his ability to keep calm under pressure. He first grabbed the selector’s attention with a fighting unbeaten 87 and 2 for 42 which helped India ‘A’ grab the title in the tri-series final against Australia A in August. Then few days ago, he further bolstered his claim for a maiden call with 65 and 5 for 29, against visiting Bangladesh A team, consisting of many international players.
It’s his ability to bat and bowl that has put him ahead of likes of Ravindra Jadeja. Chairman of the selectors Sandeep Patil also didn’t mince words when he said that his selection was due to the changing demands of the game wherein the role of all-rounders has become important. “Gurkeerat was picked looking at his all-round capabilities,” Patil, the chairman of selectors, said.
Gurkeerat has been consistent performer for Punjab also in first class wherein he scored 449 and 677 runs, respectively, during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons to emerge as a lynchpin in his state’s scheme of things. Punjab Ranji coach and former national selector Bhupinder Singh Sr said that Gurkeerat possess necessary skills and talent to back his attacking batting style.
“I have seen him grow as a player since his U-19 days. He has a mature head. He has the ability to understand the situation and react accordingly. Yes, International cricket is a bit different but I think he is up and ready for the challenge,” Bhupinder Singh added.