Satvinder Singh, Patiala home of former India handball international, had a great night of celebrations, bhangra and mithais in full flow, as his son Anmolpreet and nephew Prabhsimran raked in big money in the 2019 IPL auctions. While Prabhsimran got a bonanza ( $4.8 crore Punjab Kings), Anmolpreet ( $80 lakhs from Mumbai Indians) was also tipped for bigger things.
A member of India’s Under-19 World Cup shootout led by Ishan Kishan in 2016, Anmolpreet was man of the match in the semi-final against Sri Lanka. He finished top scorer for Punjab in his debut season at Ranji (2017-18) with 753 runs and played for India A coached by Rahul Dravid against New Zealand. In his IPL debut in 2021, he heralded his arrival in style by crushing Josh Hazlewood for two fours and six in one over.
But such are the vagaries of IPL team dynamics that it may very well become over-required without getting a fair trial. The first order pool of play between teams in the IPL continues to be overcrowded. Anmolpreet’s career IPL statistics read 29 runs in three matches in two seasons. After failing to make the playoffs last season, MI decided to release 13 players from its roster. The right-handed hitter became an unwanted casualty.
Anmolpreet decided to channel any negative energy into a performance on the pitch. On Thursday, he scored an unbeaten 101 from 63 balls to help Punjab to an 8-wicket victory against Jammu & Kashmir in the Vijay Hazare Trophy at Wankhede Stadium. With a score of 160, he was his fastest hundred in all age groups.
“There are so many things going on in the back of the mind,” Anmolpreet muses of the IPL disappointment. “But once you’ve played enough cricket, you realize you have to try to stay in the present and make the most of the opportunities. I have confidence in my ability, that I have it in me. Now, I just have to show what I have. I just tried to express myself.”
He took on Jammu midfielder Yudhvir Singh for special treatment, dropping him for two fours and three sixes. Scoring T20 merit points through an ODI entry is not ideal, as the two formats gradually move in different directions. But IPL scouts are keeping an eye on the tournament, with the auction scheduled for next month. Feedback from the MI camp to Anmolpreet has been to ‘keep the faith’ in his ability.
“What happens at the auction is not in my hands,” he says. “The ups and downs continue in life. The way I take it, I must be deficient in some areas, which is why I was released. Next year I will try to arrive as an improved player”.
The Anmolpreet T20 SR (114) race clearly needs improvement and this could turn out to be just the boost he needed.
If he gets another chance, Anmolpreet will come better prepared. “What I learned from the IPL is that people will have high expectations from abroad. You just have to keep the focus and show (performances) in between.”
Next time, the celebrations at the Satinder home can be measured on the day of the auction; they can choose to wait for him to ignite the IPL with his batting.