"My father was unhappy with me when I told him I wanted to become a cricketer," remembers Mandeep Singh.

Now the captain of the Ranji team, and a returnee to the Kings XI Punjab team after four years to play in the VIVO Indian Premier League, it's somewhat astonishing that the hard-hitting Jalandhar-native would arise from parental aversion to take such a steadfast role in cricket.

"He was a sportsman himself and later on became an athletics coach," Mandeep explains, trying to shed light on what his father had experienced. "He told me that becoming an athlete is not an ideal way to make ends meet."

While his father in his own right had dismissed the brewing desire, Mandeep's brother Harvinder Singh was much more supportive. Having been a fast bowler himself, Harvinder quit cricket to become a doctor but he wasn't going to let his brother go down the same path.

"Harvinder is seven years older than I am and he told my father than he'll support the family and that I shouldn't quit cricket as well,” Mandeep recalls, eternally grateful for his brother's sacrifice to let him pursue his dream.

"He has been taking care of me ever since I was a kid and he's someone I really look up to. I think of him as a mentor. He really is an amazing person."

A different pride in representing KXIP

Backed by his brother's belief, Mandeep excelled from a young age, captaining teams right from the U15s to the U19s. His impressive performances in the domestic circuit got him to the IPL where he started off with Kolkata Knight Riders before making it home to Kings XI Punjab.

Chances were few and far between in his maiden campaign with KXIP, featuring only six times and finishing with an aggregate of just 47 runs. But in his sophomore year, the attacking batsman flourished, notching up 432 runs in 16 matches at an outstanding strike rate of 126.31 and for his efforts, Mandeep was bestowed with the league's Rising Star Award. After spending two more years with KXIP, Mandeep was bought by Royal Challengers Bengaluru, whom he went on to represent 40 times scoring a shade under 600 runs in the middle order slot.

Mandeep truly values the support that he has received in life, be it at home or his home ground of Mohali where he enjoyed the best season of his career so far. And in his return to the team he says he has always rooted for, Mandeep aims to pay back for the love and support that his brother and the KXIP fans have given him the only way he knows; with his bat.

"There is just something different about playing for your home team," says Mandeep. "I am at a loss for words, honestly. Aside from RCB, when I was part of their roster, I've always been a fan of KXIP and rooted for the team. I've learned a lot in my time at RCB but there's a different pride in representing KXIP."