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It’s all in the name: When Harpreet Singh did not get an IPL bid because Harmeet Singh was arrested

Harmeet Singh (left) and Harpreet Singh
by Abhishek Mukherjee 3 minute read

In 2017, former India Under-19 World Cupper Harmeet Singh was arrested for rash driving. Harpreet Singh, also a former Under-19 World Cupper, ended up paying the price.

The commuters must have been shocked to see the car on Platform 1 of Andheri Station at 7.20 on a Monday morning. Upon being arrested under several sections of the Indian penal code, Harmeet Singh, the driver, told the police that he “did not realise” that he had been driving into a station. He was later released on bail.

This was the same Harmeet who had been part of the Indian side that had won the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 in Australia. A left-arm finger-spinner, he had impressed Ian Chappell so much that the latter had compared him to Bishan Singh Bedi, hailing him as the “best spin bowler in any Test side bar England”.


Over two years before that, Harmeet had debuted for Mumbai at 17. He had also played for Rajasthan Royals in 2013, where he had been approached by a bookie. He did not report the approach, and believed he was only meeting with the cousins of Ajit Chandila, later implicated in a spot-fixing scandal. Harmeet was cleared by the BCCI and the Delhi Police.

However, he had not fulfilled his early promise. Stiff competition in the Mumbai circuit had forced him to switch to Tripura. He would later play for Jammu & Kashmir as well.

So far, a rather run-of-the-mill tale. Harmeet was not the first (or last) active cricketer to be arrested for rash driving. What made the incident special was what followed after the arrest – at the IPL auction for the season.

Shortly after the arrest, ANI News erroneously tweeted “Under 19 cricketer Harpreet Singh detained for driving a car straight into Andheri railway station platform last night.”

Harpreet Singh, of Madhya Pradesh, was in no trouble from the law, but still suffered repercussions. Also an Under-19 World Cupper (in 2010), he had signed up for the IPL auction. A left-hand batter, Harpreet had already played for the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Pune Warriors India.

He went unsold. When the Indian Express probed into the matter, a ‘franchise official’ told them: “We wanted to buy him, but as news came of Harpreet’s arrest, we decided not to do so since it would give the franchise a bad image. But later, when the auction got over, we came to know it was Harmeet and not Harpreet.”

ANI later deleted the tweet and posted a clarification, but by then it had been too late.

Mera naam toh kharab ho gaya na (my image has been tarnished). How can one clear that? I am not bothered about IPL now, it’s gone. But even if you run a search on my name on Google, the first thing that comes up is that I was arrested,” he told the Indian Express.

For all it matters, Harpreet’s career (73 first-class matches, 84 List A, 77 Twenty20) outlasted Harmeet’s (31, 19, and seven) comfortably. Harpreet still plays for Chhattisgarh: he made 40 and 152 against Kerala last week, and ended the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 120 (against Bihar), 77 (Goa), and 65 not out (Andhra) in his last three innings. Harmeet last played in India in 2020, but he is still around, currently part of the Lumbini All Stars in Nepal T20. Here’s hoping they did mean to sign Harmeet, and not Harpreet.

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