The year was 2003, the venue was Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium when a mighty Australian team comprehensively defeated India in the final of the ICC World Cup. A stellar batting performance by Ricky Ponting took the game away from India as Australia managed to win their second successive trophy. While most of the nation was left disheartened by the outcome of that final, India's defeat invigorated an eight-year-old Harpreet Brar's cricketing sojourn.

Photo credit: Harpreet Brar/Instagram

"After India's finals loss, it hurt but that sparked my interest towards becoming a cricketer. I decided one day I will play for India and win us the World Cup," declares the Punjabi all-rounder, who started playing gully cricket soon after the tournament.

While India managed to lift the trophy in 2011, it was double delight for Harpreet as it was Yuvraj Singh who took centrestage during the tournament. Brar idolised Yuvraj in his formative years, emulating his batting style whenever he could.

"The days that Yuvi paaji scored runs for India, I used to be full of energy and call all my friends for gully cricket to smash them for some fours and sixes," he recalls.

The all-rounder's emulation of Yuvraj Singh was so similar that he almost managed to achieve the southpaw batsman's feet of smashing six sixes in an over in a T20 club game at Pathankot. Brar's team was reeling at 48/6 chasing a target of 140 when he walked out to bat and smashed the opposition's left-arm spinner for a six of his very first ball.

"The next over the left-arm spinner came back to bowl and he was bowling in my arc, so I smoked him for five sixes in that over," he says. "The other ball went for a four."

Those 34 runs in a single over allowed his team to tie that game from a position where defeat looked the only plausible outcome.

Apart from smashing the hapless bowlers for sixes, the Moga-born has also enhanced his reputation as a spinner as well with a stellar performance in the Col C K Nayudu Trophy, emerging as the leading wicket taker for Punjab in the 2018/19 season with 56 wickets at an average of 16.41.

Just like his role-model Yuvraj who managed to win a World Cup for the country in 2011 with his slow left-arm bowling and explosive batting, Brar seems to be on course to live his childhood dream sometime in the future.