If one of the best things about sport are the inspiring stories worthy of retellings, look no further than the Indian Premier League. Saturday, October 24 was a special day in IPL 2020. With the race for securing playoff spots getting intense in UAE, teams are under tremendous pressure. But how many teams will include a batsman in their playing XI when he has lost his father less than 24 hours ago? Kings XI Punjab backing Mandeep Singh to open the innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai was a story—gritty and touching in equal measure—that only sport can throw up.
Sports’ healing touch was eloquently demonstrated by 28-year-old Mandeep, whose father lost his battle against liver cancer in Chandigarh the night before KXIP’s match against SRH. Mandeep’s ability to conquer personal tragedy reflected in his teammates’ performance, as Kings carved out a sensational 12-run victory. Two days later, against Kolkata Knight Riders in Sharjah, Mandeep struck a brilliant 50, helping KXIP to a fifth straight win. The Punjab batsman looked heavenwards and sent up a ‘thank you’. An appreciative Universe Boss Chris Gayle gave him an emotional hug.
Mandeep was praised by two of the world’s finest—Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. They know about cricket amidst personal tragedy. Kohli was playing a Ranji Trophy match for Delhi when his father died in 2006. All of 18, Kohli, unbeaten on 40 overnight, returned to score a crucial 90 to save Delhi from a follow-on. During the 1999 Cricket World Cup in the UK, Tendulkar lost his father. He flew back to Mumbai and returned to resurrect India’s floundering campaign by scoring a brilliant century against Kenya at Bristol.
The IPL has also unearthed India’s large reservoir of talent. Tushar Deshpande was unknown till he made his IPL debut for...