Cricketnext caught up with the talented young batsman Gurkeerat Mann to get his thoughts on representing Kings XI Punjab in IPL 6, playing under Australian veteran Adam Gilchrist and the catch that gave him recognition.
What was IPL 6 like for you?
It was a great experience. Representing Kings XI Punjab was a big opportunity. I am proud that I was able to contribute to the team's cause. The tournament gave me a lot of experience. Playing under veterans whom we used to see on television and cricket grounds was incredible.
This was your second IPL. Are you satisfied with the way your career is going?
This season was fantastic and much better than season five. I played five matches last year, scoring 86 runs, but this year has proved much better for me. I have collected many memories from this season. I didn't perform much with the bat but gave my best on the field. Playing under a legend like Gilchrist was great. He has been a very motivating presence and always encouraged me on and off the field. The catch I took against Pune Warriors will also remain special; winning was the icing on the cake. That catch has given me an identity and I cannot forget tat. Fielding is the most important aspect in Twenty20 and I did my best to save runs for the team.
Kings XI Punjab started off with a bang, winning their first three matches, but fell miserably after that. What went wrong?
Its cricket, anything can happen. Especially in the shortest format, nobody can predict a result. We started off good to clinch three consecutive victories against big teams like CSK and Mumbai Indians. Then we suffered defeats, though not by big margins. We gave close fightbacks in some of the matches too. Our batting was solid in comparison to the bowling. Gilchrist, David Hussey, David Miller and Shaun Marsh were the spine of KXIP's top order. Azhar Mahmood, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla were there to bolster our bowling. We had some bad calls against us too.
Do you think the changing of captains (Gilchrist and Hussey) affected the team's performance?
Not at all. Both are experienced players and have played a lot of matches at the international level. Both are very motivating. It's the shortest format of the game. A batsman comes with a mindset of hitting every delivery and a bowler to take wicket and restrict runs.
That catch off Ross Taylor. Walk us through it.
That catch will always be memorable to me. Now people know me through that catch. I never expected I would be taking that catch. I still remember the moment when I dived to grab the ball at fine leg. Taylor pulled the ball and it went in the air for some time. I was in the chase and honestly, nothing was in my mind that time. I was just concentrating on the ball. I dived full length and at the right time grabbed the ball. Taking a catch of a player like Ross Taylor was magnificent. We dismissed Pune for a paltry 99 on their home turf and went on to win the match comfortably. That catch has given me an identity. I got the most votes for that catch as well. I was delighted. I couldn't stop seeing the replay.
What was the best compliment you got after that stunner?
The catch was as sweet as the victory. Afterwards, Gilchrist was the first one to congratulate me. I still remember his words. "This is one of the greatest catches in the history of cricket". That was enough for me. Such comments from a legend will always help me. Gilchrist is a cool-minded skipper, player and human being. Even David Hussey and all my team-mates congratulated me. After the victory, there was a different atmosphere in the dressing room. Everybody was cheering because of victory and were praising me too. Darren Lehmann also complimented and said it was a stunner.
Apart from that catch, you also helped Gilchrist take his first wicket, in his final match ...
I was really happy and proud that I was a part of that. I just took the catch and it really mattered when I got to knew that it was Gilchrist's first wicket of his career. It was a perfect send-off to him. It will be memorable for me too. He thanked me after that catch. Harbhajan paaji tried to play the ball straight but got it high in the air and I caught it well at the long-off region. The celebration was on.
Which catch will be most memorable to you - the Taylor stunner or Harbhajan's?
(Laughs) Both catches will always be memorable, but Taylor's catch will be one that I will never be able to forget. It gave me an identity and people know me now with the help of that catch. After seeing the replays, I got to know that it was a really good one.
What's next for you? What are your plans for the Ranji season?
The camp will be starting soon and I am ready for the further challenges. I just have to perform. I will give my best and will try to score as many runs as possible for my team. The IPL has obviously given me a lot of experience and that I will try to execute in the domestic tournament too.