Mumbai, May 21 (IANS) When Ramandeep Singh was picked up in the IPL 2022 mega auction by Mumbai Indians, he had played only 13 T20 matches for his state Punjab, apart from 10 List A games and one appearance in first-class cricket. But it was his skill-set, a seam bowling all-rounder, which caught the eye of the five-time champions. The real gamechanger for Ramandeep, though, was a talk with captain Rohit Sharma that boosted his confidence, something which he will never forget.
"What he's spoken to me and explained to me is that the main thing is confidence, which will take you to the next level. And that confidence can't be given by someone else, I have to bring it within myself. And through my performances, through my hard work, that confidence will get built up over time. I feel the X-factor is confidence, that is what will make the difference," said Ramandeep in a video on Mumbai's social media accounts.
Ramandeep made his IPL debut against Royal Challengers Bangalore and was understandably unable to sleep on the eve of the match after being informed of the same. When he walked on the field to bat, his heart was racing but the feeling of enjoying the moment calmed him down.
"MJ (Mahela Jayawardene) told me at the nets that I'll probably be playing the next match. At night, there was obviously the feeling of, 'I'm going to play the IPL'. It's a platform I've been seeing since childhood and I'll get to be there. Obviously, there was no chance of sleep coming. Everyone told me that this moment will not come again, so don't take the tension of it, just live it and enjoy the moment. And that's what I tried to do, to enjoy the moment as much as I could.
"My heart was racing before I had to go and bat, in front of such a large crowd. But as soon as I went in, everything calmed down. My focus was just on playing the bowler. There was Virat Kohli at slip, Glenn Maxwell at midwicket, and Dinesh Karthik as the wicketkeeper...but in the middle, I didn't feel it.
"I was like, 'I also have a bat in hand, and at the end of the day, the game is one of bat and ball.' I felt proud of myself that I didn't get flustered by whoever was standing around me and could tell myself I just have to play. That was a very good feeling."
Though Ramandeep was left out of the eleven after the match against Bangalore, he never got the feeling of being left in the cold and credits Sharma as well as head coach Mahela Jayawardene for not letting him feel like that.
"The franchise didn't let me feel down. MJ came to me and said, 'This is a tactical change, nothing to do with your performance. We don't judge people on one match here.' And the main thing was, Rohit paaji used to tell me, 'We are preparing you for this level and guiding you'.
"So obviously, if a legend like Rohit Sharma is coming and explaining things to you, half of the pressure is released automatically, just like that. Rohit paaji would give me tasks in the nets, that 'You have to do this today. While bowling, bowl these slower balls and yorkers. Dominate while batting'."
Ramandeep's time of reckoning came in Mumbai's last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, when he picked 3/20 with the ball. But he has set his sights on dishing out all-round performances like the hard-hitting Andre Russell does for Kolkata Knight Riders. "For me it would be Andre Russell (to look up to). The way he's playing for his team, I want to play for MI. I want to win games for MI like he does. He's a 100 per cent perfect allrounder in batting and bowling. I want to be that cricketer."
Apart from stalwarts like Sharma and Jayawardene, Ramandeep also has valuable support from his cousin brother Anmolpreet Singh in the same franchise. "You can't ask for better than a brother to support you. He was always like, 'This platform is such that you get to know what's what only after playing. So even if there is a failure or two, you have to not let your guard down. Don't worry'.
"I was also telling him the same! Obviously, support between brothers is really important. But MI is such a franchise that it's really a family. Everyone is coming to you all the time, and everyone is there to support you. I would say everyone are brothers here."
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