Loved Pankaj Tripathi in the trailer of '83'? He is playing the role of PR Man Singh, whose tireless devotion led Kapil’s 'Devils' to ultimate glory in the 1983 World Cup. Here's the story of the unsung hero whom Ranveer Singh has called the "best 'Man' Manager of all".
PR Man Singh, the team manager of the Indian cricket team, was an integral part of the World Cup victory in 1983. He was the only one who accompanied the team of 14 players to England for the tournament.
In the upcoming sports movie 83, which showcases Team India’s journey to the first World Cup title, actor Pankaj Tripathi will essay the role of Man Singh.
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Popularly known as Maan Saab and Mr Cricket, he was not just a manager but a player himself. A right-handed batsman and off break bowler, Man Singh played five first-class matches between 1965 and 1969, representing Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy and Hyderabad Blues in the Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup Tournament. But he shined brighter as an administrator of the team rather than a player.
His career started as the assistant team manager for India on its tour to Pakistan in 1978. “The Indian team’s tour to Pakistan in 1978 was the first in almost 20 years, and it was more of a political tour, with cricket being used only as an excuse. It was decided that the manager for that Indian team should be a politician, and, within days, the responsibility was handed to the Maharaja of Baroda. He accepted it, but said, ‘If I have to go on this tour, Man Singh will be my deputy’. That’s how I became his assistant on that trip,” he shared with Wisden India.
Man Singh was part of a six-member selection committee that appointed Kapil Dev as the captain for the tournament which later paved the way for this all-rounder’s amazing performance and championship.
The 1983 World Cup was Man Singh’s first fully-fledged assignment as a manager of the team. During the assignment, he disregarded many board rules as a manager to support the players. “We had four players with their wives and I gave them permission to stay in the hotel. I also allowed them to travel in the team bus when going to venues out of London. This was unthinkable [back] then,” he told Sportstar. Man Singh also managed the team at the 1987 Cricket World Cup where India reached the semi-finals. He later served as the secretary of the Hyderabad Cricket Association.
“Honestly, I cannot think of another Indian who is so thickly involved with cricket globally and his personal museum at his residence is ample testimony to his cricket crazy intensity. He is the warmest cricket person, through and through,” wrote former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi in the Foreword of Man Singh’s book ‘Agony and Ecstasy.’
His book is an exceptional work that includes numerous unheard and unknown happenings inside the team. Along with reminiscing the wonderful times during the games, he also criticises Hyderabad Cricket Association for its failures at various times.
“My father took me to watch cricket when I was young, but I started playing seriously only when I got to college,” Man Singh, now 76, told Wisden India.
While preparing for the role of Man Singh in 83, Pankaj said, “I was good at bowling and fielding and I am hoping to brush up my batting skills while prepping for this film. I will also meet Man Singh ji and talk to him about his experiences. For now, I have been given some books and documents to refer to.”
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