Young Pakistani fast bowler Mahinder Pal Singh dreams of becoming the first person from the Sikh community to represent his country in international cricket, and attain stardom while playing against arch rivals India.
"It would mean so much to me to play for Pakistan against India at any level of cricket. If you ask any cricketer, he will say that he wants to play in high-pressure matches, the big occasions where the world is watching. India versus Pakistan is always a special occasion and I would love the opportunity to be a part of this occasion at some point in future in my cricketing career," said Singh, now in his early 20s.
"I would love to be called a hero in a high-tempo match, against a strong opposition and watched by fans all around the world. I have relatives in Punjab in India; my aunt lives there along with many other relatives who we meet on a regular basis. As well as this, I have a lot of fans in India, especially from Punjab who always wish me well and say that if I ever play for Pakistan, they will support me and Pakistan in those matches," Singh told Pakpassion.net in
The pace bowler, who idolises Waqar Younis, has suffered after Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) decided to change the domestic structure and scratched departmental teams. As many as 400 players are said to have lost their livelihood due to this.
"I last played Grade II in 2017, but unfortunately many players who were playing for departments have not been offered contracts or places with current teams. Only some of the players who were playing for these departments on a regular basis have been offered places in the current domestic teams," said Singh.
"As I had only played the occasional match for my department, at district level or Grade II cricket, I didn't really stand a chance in the current domestic set up. A lot of the time, I was given just the occasional end-of-season match to see what I could do. I hadn't come through the under-16 or under-17 or under-19 levels, so people didn't really know who I was and that's why I've not been picked for any of the current domestic teams," he explained.
As a member of the Sikh community, Singh says he has encountered discrimination but he takes it in his stride.
"I've had to struggle a lot and there have been some very tough days, but I am not prepared to give up on my dream. I have encountered discrimination at many levels and some snide comments, but there are good and bad people everywhere," he said.
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