A CASE of mistaken identity has cost a promising cricketer dearly. Incorrect social media news updates that mixed up the names of one-time Mumbai left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh and in-form Madhya Pradesh batsman Harpreet Singh have resulted in the latter losing a chance to be picked by an IPL franchise.
During the IPL auction on Monday, several news feeds named Harpreet as the cricketer who was arrested earlier in the day for driving his car straight to the platform of Andheri railway station in Mumbai. It was, in fact, Harmeet who had allegedly broken the law.
The incorrect news updates were later corrected, but the damage was done. Harpreet remained unsold at the auction, and the reason, according to a franchise representative, was the incorrect tweet about his arrest that he saw during the auction.
“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,” said a franchise official.
Both players — Harmeet (24) and Harpreet (25) — represented India at the Junior World Cup, but their paths have diverged since then. While Harmeet no longer finds a place in any of the Mumbai teams, Harpreet has been a mainstay for Madhya Pradesh and one of domestic cricket’s most consistent performers.
On the day of the auction, ANI, on its official handle, tweeted: “Under 19 cricketer Harpreet Singh detained for driving a car straight into Andheri railway station platform last night.” The tweet was sandwiched between its updates on the IPL auction.
Even till Wednesday, the incorrect tweet was on the ANI timeline. But after The Indian Express sent a query about the Harmeet-Harpreet mix-up, the agency issued a corrected tweet on Wednesday evening. “Incident of driving car into Andheri Railway Stn platform involved U19 cricketer Harmeet Singh, not Harpreet Singh as reported earlier… Mumbai U-19 cricketer Harmeet Singh who was then arrested for the offence, was granted bail by Andheri court thereafter,” it tweeted.
News agency Press Trust of India also wrongly named Harpreet in its initial report. It later corrected the mistake but a few websites, till late on Wednesday, still named Harpreet as the offender and had his photograph as well.
“I’m mentally disturbed… Mera naam toh kharab ho gaya na (I have got a bad name). How can one clear that? I am getting calls from everyone asking what have you done. I was hoping to be picked up at the IPL auction… When my name came, the franchises must have felt why take a player who is in police custody. 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,” Harpreet told The Indian Express.
Before the auction, Harpreet was in a rich vein of form and among the favourites to make it to the IPL. In the week before the auction, he was the top scorer in domestic cricket’s premier T20 tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Appearing for Central Zone, he aggregated 211 runs in four games, with a strike rate touching 145. His standout inning was a whirlwind 92 off 51 balls against South Zone. He also scored two other half centuries.
Now, his IPL dreams hang by a thread. “All is not lost for him. If someone gets injured, we’ll pick Harpreet as first choice,” said a franchise representative.