It has been a long wait of more than 10 years for Harpreet Singh Bhatia, who played a crucial knock of 41 from 28 balls to help the Punjab Kings overpower the Mumbai Indians by 13 runs in the IPL 2023 match in Mumbai on Saturday.
Harpreet, who has scored 77 runs in three games for PBKS, featured in the IPL after a long wait of 10 years and 332 days -- the longest gap between appearances for any player in the history of IPL.
Harpreet, who had a base price of Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million), was bought by PBKS at the players auction in December 2022 for Rs 40 lakh (Rs 4 million).
It was a big sigh of relief for the Chhattisgarh captain who missed out on the IPL auction in 2017 reportedly after a news agency incorrectly tweeted Harpreet's name instead of former Mumbai player Harmeet Singh, who was arrested for driving his car into the platform at the Andheri railway station in suburban Mumbai.
This incident happened before the then IPL auction which made the franchises wary of picking a player who was on the wrong side of the law.
Even though the news agency later issued another tweet saying 'Incident of driving car into Andheri Railway Stn platform involved U19 cricketer Harmeet Singh, not Harpreet Singh as reported earlier', for Harpreet it was a big blow in the prime of his career as the error cost him years of his IPL career.
Even though, he was later called up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore as an injury replacement for Sarfaraz Khan, he didn't get a single game and the 31 year old had to wait another six years before he finally got picked at the auction.
Harpreet's previous IPL appearance came in 2012 when he played just one game for the now defunct Pune Warriors. He had earlier been bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010 but didn't get to bat in the only match that he was picked in the playing XI.
This season Harpreet looks keen to make up for lost time. After a good showing for Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy with 420 runs in five matches, including a century and two fifties, Harpreet is playing some handy knocks for PBKS in IPL 2023.
The left-hander scored a run-a-ball 22 in Punjab's victory against the Lucknow Super Giants and then smashed a quickfire 41 against the Mumbai Indians, hitting four fours and two sixes in his 28-ball knock to add a vital 92 runs for the fifth wicket with Sam Curran.