Mohinder Singh Brar recalls the night he lost the 2003 World Cup final to Australia. His son Harpreet stayed up all night crying and refusing to eat. That same night, Mohinder said his son’s cricketing ambitions were born.
Friday night 18 years go by. Harpreet, dressed in Punjab Kings colors, advanced to his third over. The left-arm spinner brought his opponent Virat Kohli out of the crease. The next ball, he put a sharp spin on the ball and Glenn Maxwell beat the bat and clipped off-stump bail. He ended the over as a double-wicket maiden, but did not do so until AB de Villiers took the wicket. It was a spell – along with 25 breezes with the bat – that the Kings won and trailed by Kohli.
Virat Kohli congratulates Harpreet Brain on Player of the Matchpic.twitter.com/C7S7MadfUn
– Cricket Tracker (@crickettrocker) April 30, 2021
The night Mohinder knew his son had arrived.
“When the best batsman in the world hits your son in the back, there is no other bigger than that moment,” he said.
The 25-year journey began when his mother made a mistake on a poster in the Zirakpur market promoting cricket coaching at the academy. The facility closed a few years later, but Moga-native Punjab continued its growth in Chandigarh under former left-arm spinner Bharti Viz. Travel is problematic though.
“Sometimes he misses the bus because the drivers do not allow him to travel with his big kitbag,” his mother Gurmeet Kaur recalled. “That means we have to start home at 4am and come back late at night.”
The fight continued as the Mohali district junior teams ignored Harpreet. Instead, Wiz included him in the Ropar district team, a small district in the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA). He was going to play, but his performances, no matter how good, were not recognized.
Not until current Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Gurkeerat Mann spotted him and brought him to Mohali for trial. But it came at a time when the young man was ready to leave the sport and move on to Canada.
“He was disappointed not to get the chance to play in Mohali. Fortunately, his perseverance paid off,” said Mohinder, who retired as head constable and driver with the Punjab Police last year.
He had to slog through four trials before being selected by the previous Kings XI Punjab in 2018. But he did not make the team debut until next season – he played twice that year, and once in 2020. Domestically, however, his run was very successful — including being the third highest wicket-taker with 56 wickets in the CK Nayudu Trophy in 2018-19 and his debut in the U-23 national team in 2019.
His star is yet to shine in the IPL. Until Friday, that is.
“I played under pressure that I could not play,” he said after the match. “But this time, my focus is on playing freely and performing with what I have. It is a great pleasure to receive my first wicket in the form of Virat Pazi.