After his selection for the Rest of India squad, U-19 star Harmeet Singh wants to claim India whites through successful grind in the domestic circuit.
With the World Cup victory sunk in, India's Under-19 star Harmeet Singh has taken the next big leap after being selected for the Rest of India squad to face Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan in the Irani Trophy in ten days' time.
The left-arm spinner - who was overlooked by Mumbai after playing the Ranji Trophy for them in 2009 - stormed back into the limelight with match-winning performances in the U-19 World Cup, and while he is elated with the Irani Trophy call-up, the news has only strengthened his focus to claim the India whites with a successful comeback into domestic cricket. Here is what he told CricketNext about his selection and expectations.
Congratulations on being selected in the Rest of India squad. Were you expecting it?
Thank you. Not really. Actually I was just practising, focusing on my bowling and waiting for things to happen. Didn't expect [to be selected], but yes, I'm pretty happy and looking forward to it now.
Do you feel this as your second first-class debut after not being considered for the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team for the last three years?
This is kind of a second debut for me, may be. I will be playing with bigger players, all [of whom] have played India. It will be tough. I will just focus on being simple, keeping my bowling simple and not doing anything different. [I will] do the best I know and hope for things to fall in place.
Ian Chappell feels you and Unmukt Chand should not be left in domestic cricket for long. Do you feel that praise played on selectors' mind while they selected the Rest of India squad?
I don't know (smiles), you can ask the selectors. I take it [Chappell's comment] as a compliment. People talk only if you do well. I keep focusing on what I need to do.
Going back to your recent big moment, has the feeling of winning the World Cup sunk in?
Yes, obviously. Celebrations are over. Since a week and a half I’ve been practising with the red ball. Playing with the white ball is a lot different. I am getting used to bowling with the red ball so that I can cope with that well.
Talking about the U-19 World Cup, you took three wickets against West Indies but India lost, and then fever forced you to miss the next two games. What were your feelings sitting in the dressing room?
Obviously it's not a great feeling at all, watching the game from the dressing room. I went to the doctor as well. It was a pretty bad feeling but I coped with it well. Recovery was crucial, as it was a crunch game after that. It [illness] takes toll on you. The body is weak, not 100 per cent. But I had to go out and bat [in the quarter-final against Pakistan]. It was a really big game. After that things went smoothly, but no game was easy.
You, of course, haven't seen the great Bishen Singh Bedi play, but after you were compared to him, did you go and watch his videos to spot the similarities in bowling action, flight, loop, etc.?
No, not yet. Maybe if people compare me again (smiles), I will watch it.
Are your looking forward to be picked by an IPL franchise or get a recall to the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team?
Obviously Ranji Trophy is much more important. If you play well, you have a chance to play for India. I enjoy my game. Getting selected for the India Test squad is ultimate, but I am looking forward to the domestic season. IPL, I will take it if things come to me. Right now I am eager to play Ranji Trophy.
How would you like your cricket career to evolve after this call up for the Irani Trophy?
I don't set any short-term goals. The domestic season is coming up and I am preparing for that, whatever things I need to do, mentally and physically. Not doing anything extra. Just keeping things simple and hope for the best.