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Selected in India's squad for the ODIs against New Zealand, Mandeep Singh believes his stint with India A in Australia earlier in September has prepared him to deliver.
"Getting an ODI team call-up is a big deal for me," the batsman from Jalandhar said. "Going against my father and not taking up athletics as a sport was not easy. And today my parents are the happiest seeing me getting closer to my dream. I think of ways to keep the pressure away from my mind and I am a different batsman mentally after the Australia tour because of Dravid's conditioning."
Mandeep talks highly of India A coach Rahul Dravid's inputs during the Quadrangular series in Mackay. They came at a time when the batsman felt pressure over the lack of big scores in the early stages of the tournament. Mandeep went on to play important innings at the business end of the tournament, including a 95 to set up India A's win in the final against Australia A.
"I will carry the confidence Rahul bhai gave me. He basically showed me me how self-belief can do wonders for you."
"I was under a lot of pressure in the initial matches during the tour. The wickets and the conditions were different and the opposition was at their best. So, I had started to break down mentally and was over-thinking, questioning my abilities as a batsman. I thought that my India senior stint would just be limited to the T20 matches I played in Zimbabwe (in June) as I was not able to get runs in Australia.
"He (Dravid) kept pushing me and kept telling me to let go of the pressure and not think about cricket all the time," added Mandeep. "He helped me get over the failures during the initial matches and advised me to just play my natural game. Before the final, I played a handy knock of 56 runs and that lifted my spirits."