July 28th 2019, The Indian Association ground in Singapore.
The home team’s batsmen, led by the talismanic Tim David, launch a relentless assault on Nepal’s spinners. Sandeep Lamichane doesn’t complete his spell, leaking 34 in 3 overs. Basant Regmi goes for 54 runs in his 4 overs and hasn’t been seen in a Nepali Jersey since.
Singapore’s spinners then go on to outshine their Nepali counterparts, taking a combined 7-66 in 11 suffocating overs. Nepal is dismissed for 109 in 15 overs.
Singapore win by 82 runs. They progress to the global qualifiers.
Nepal is devastated. Their fans have been outnumbered and silenced. Their world cup dream is over.
…And that’s why you’re reading a Singapore preview instead of a Nepal one.
In the two and a half months since that historic day, Singapore has slain two more giants. They did for Canada in Group A of the Cricket World Cup Challenge League and followed that up by defending 23 off the last 3 overs of the innings on the small IA ground against the much-fancied Zimbabwe: their first win against a full member.
Make no mistake; this is a golden era for Singaporean Cricket. They have more depth and versatility in their squad and more youngsters in the pipelines than any other point in their history. They’ve even moved on from former skipper Chetan Suryawanshi who was once seen as the face of Singaporean cricket but can no longer get into the squad let alone the XI.
Amjad Mahboob (c), Surendran Chandramohan, Tim David, Avi Dixit, Aritra Dutta, Rezza Gaznavi, Anantha Krishna, Selladore Vijaya Kumar, Vinoth Bhaskaran, Navin Param, Janak Prakash, Rohan Rangarajan, Manpreet Singh (wk), Sidhant Singh, Aryaman Uchil
Ones to Watch
The tall Singaporean-born, Western Australian all-rounder took a few games to find his feet in the black and red Jersey. However, he has now scored 6 half-centuries in his last 9 games across formats: a run that dates back to his match-winning 77 off 43 balls against Nepal in that famous de facto final.
Singapore’s talisman picked up 3 Player of the Match awards at the recently concluded first round of the Challenge League Group A on his way to a tournament-topping tally of 369 runs.
Interestingly, one of those POTM awards came in Singapore’s final game against tournament favourites Canada, where he took 3-26 with his surprisingly accurate off-spinners to show us that he has another string to his bow.
It was an important spell for the all-rounder who hasn’t bowled his preferred seam up since he broke his foot weeks before the 2018-19 Big Bash season. It also gives Singapore more versatility should they decide to ply an extra batsman or go in with four seamers instead of three.
He’s 19-years-old, and yet he is arguably the leader of this Singaporean attack. With pace, bounce, and age on his side, Janak is likely to be a permanent fixture in the national set-up for many years to come.
After missing Singapore’s first 5 games at the Challenge League due to mandatory National Service, he marked his return with some fine death bowling in the victory against Zimbabwe. With 17 required off the last 12 balls, Janak bowled a tight penultimate over, conceding a mere 7 runs, and picking up the wickets of Ryan Burl and Richmond Mutumbami —the former perishing to a searing yorker.
In 6 T20Is, Janak has picked up 9 wickets, while going at a run-a-ball despite bowling most of his overs in the Powerplay and at the death, that too on the tiny Indian Association ground in Singapore.
Bowlers Beware: Give him width outside the off-stump at your own peril. That he idolizes Virender Sehwag is not all that surprising.
After Tim David, Nizakat Khan’s clone/long-lost twin is the most dangerous batsman in Singapore’s ranks, which is best demonstrated by his game-changing assault on Canada in the Challenge League. At 134-4 after 34 overs, Singapore looked to be on course for a total between 220 and 230. However, after a sedate start, he combined with opener Arjun Mutreja to wallop 58 runs in the next 6 overs. Despite a collapse in the last 9 overs, it was enough to propel Singapore to a match-winning total on a slugging pitch.
Placed in what is probably the tougher of two groups, the ever-improving Singapore will have to slay more giants if they are to finish near the top of their group.
Given the variety in their bowling attack and the ability to bat deeper than many teams in the tournament, they would fancy their chances of finishing in the top 3 so as to gain a second chance at qualification in case they lose qualifier 1 or 2.
Tim David will certainly be the key for Singapore and—at least on current form—heads into the tournament as one of the most in-form and dangerous batsmen on the Associate circuit. In the event that he fails, the belligerent Surendran Chandramohan, 20-year-old Rohan Rangarajan, and inventive keeper-batsman Manpreet Singh are more than capable of playing match-defining innings much like they’ve done in the Asia Finals and the recently concluded tri-series.
On the bowling front, in addition to Janak, Singapore are blessed with the street-wise variations of skipper Amjad, the rapid Sidhant Singh, and Aryaman Uchil, who sits atop the leading wicket-takers charts in Group A of the Challenge League.
Tall leg-spinner Anantha Krishna, slow left-arm Powerplay specialist Vinoth Bhaskaran, and ageless off-spinner Selladore Vijaya Kumar, give them plenty of slow bowling options.
Despite the fact that nearly all their bowlers can wield the willow, Singapore is susceptible to dramatic collapses such as the one that saw them lose 7 wickets for 15 runs in the space of 15 balls against Qatar to open their challenge league campaign. A soft middle order could be the main reason behind this worrying trend; something they were unable to address in the tri-series when they sent Aritra Dutta in at No.4.
Rohan Rnagarajan, Surendran Chandramohan, Tim David, Aritra Dutta, Manpreet Singh (wk), Janak Prakash, Navin Param, Sidhant Singh, Selladore Vijaya Kumar, Vinoth Bhaskaran, Amjad Mahboob (c) | Rest of squad: Rezza Gaznavi, Avi Dixit, Aryaman Uchil
My (bold) prediction is for Singapore to finish 2nd with 4 wins out of 6, “upsetting” Scotland and losing to the Netherlands and one other team. They will win Qualifier 1/2 to book their spot in the World Cup without needing to win a do-or-die game to get through.