40/0 after 4.

Singapore had already used 4 bowlers in the first 4 overs of Namibia’s innings. They weren’t mixing it up. It was reactive. It was desperate.

Enter Sidhant Singh: Singapore’s designated afterthought. He was dropped for Singapore’s previous game against PNG and hadn’t bowled his full quota in his first 5 games of the tournament.

3 overs into a spell in which he unleashed his patented bow and arrow celebration, he’d changed the complexion of the game with the wickets of Stephan Baard and Craig Williams.

Sidhant Singh Singapore
Sidhant’s early wickets gave Singapore a chance against Namibia in their must-win group match. Photo: ICC

He had no right to do so.

Sidhant’s stock ball angles into the right-hander, and he often strays onto the batsman’s pads.

He was also bowling to a short leg side boundary.

95/3 after 12

And then disaster struck. Namibian skipper Gerhard Erasmus laid into the 19-year old with 4 consecutive maximums over mid-wicket off 4 consecutive length balls.

On the 5th ball, Sidhant went around the wicket. It was fuller. It was wider. It was squeezed away square on the off side for another boundary.

28 off the over with one ball remaining.

He stayed around the wicket. It was slower. Erasmus did not pick it. Aiming for mid wicket once again, he skied it up in the air to Tim David. Sidhant, with his neck craned, followed the ball with his eyes. He followed it as it came down.

…But it slipped through Tim’s hands.

The over went for 29. Tim was going to continue with his off-spinners from the other end. Sidhant was walking down to the deep point boundary with his head bowed.

They crossed paths. There was no eye contact. There was no pat on the back, no apology. Who knows if they even saw each other?

Namibia 124/3 after 13

Sidhant’s spell was reminiscent of Singapore’s campaign. It started with so much promise. Just as the world was beginning to stand up and take notice, everything came crashing down.

So what went wrong for the team that came out of nowhere? Other than the sub-par returns of Tim David and Surendran Chadramohan, where did they falter in their qualifying campaign?

Longer Boundaries and Playing Away from Home

Prior to the tournament, all eyes were on Tim David and—to a certain extent—opener Surendran Chadramohan. However, close followers of Singaporean cricket were quick to point out that Singapore would not have made it the global qualifiers without the contributions of Rohan Rangarajan and Manpreet Singh.

While Tim David led the way with a Player-of-the-match 77 in Singapore’s famous victory over Nepal, it was Rohan Rangarajan who initiated the calculated takedown of Sandeep Lamichanne and Basant Regmi in the Power Play. Manpreet, who aggregated 102 runs in 3 innings at the Asia Finals, chipped in with a quickfire 42 on a pitch that was offering a generous amount of turn.

Throughout the Global Qualifiers, however, Rohan and Manpreet scored slower than a run-a-ball, averaging 15.00 and 14.66 respectively. Singapore skipper Amjad Mahboob was quick to admit that this came down to the longer boundaries at the ICC Academy and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Manpreet Singh Singapore
Singapore needed top-order runs from Manpreet Singh, but he struggled for form. Photo: ICC

“The main difference is the facilities [grounds]. We’re used to playing in small grounds. Over here, at the big grounds, it’s not easy to get the boundaries”

Despite playing teams like Zimbabwe (another famous scalp), Nepal, and Qatar at home in the lead up to the tournament, their lack of experience on bigger grounds exposed their supporting cast of batsmen, who struggled throughout the tournament.

Anantha’s Injury and Selladore’s Suspension

11 overs. 66 runs. 7 wickets.

These were the combined figures of Selladore Vijaya Kumar, Anantha Krishna, and Vinoth Bhaskaran against Nepal in that match that Nepali fans are sick and tired of hearing about.

The Lamichanne-Regmi duo leaked 88 in 7 overs in the same match.

Unfortunately for Singapore, tall leg-spinner Anantha Krishna was ruled out of the global qualifiers before he even got a game. The South East Asian side’s troubles were compounded when Selladore, arguably their best bowler until that point, was suspended for a suspect action after their loss to the Netherlands.

Singapore Selladore Vinaykumar
Selladore Vinaykumar won the Player-of-the-Match award in Singapore’s upset against Scotland, but his suspension for a suspect bowling action dealt a blow to their qualification chances. Photo: ICC

In the space of 3 days, Singapore had lost their 2 best spinners in conditions tailor-made for them. Run-saving Power Play specialist Vinoth Bhaskaran and part-timers Tim David and Navin Param simply did not possess the X-factor to compensate for the absence of the experienced duo.

Mental Recovery

Momentum is crucial in qualifying tournaments, which are played at breakneck speed. It’s not always easy to snap a losing streak when you’re scheduled to play 6 games in the space of 9 or 10 days.

Singapore’s fielding fell away as the tournament went on; something that was painfully obvious in their final group defeat against Namibia. Gone were the boundary-line acrobatic catches by Janak Prakash and the patented diving-forward catches of Tim David. Chances that would be gobbled up and balls that should have been fielded were being dropped and fumbled.

Navin Param Singapore
Singapore’s fielding standards started to slip as the tournament wore on. Photo: ICC

Let’s get one thing straight. These last few months, without a doubt, have been the best in the history of Singaporean cricket.

Unfortunately, their lack of experience in long, but quick tournaments like this, is ultimately what cost them.

Surendran Chadramohan was run out without facing a ball against PNG and bowled by a gentle Jan Frylinck in dipper against Namibia. He looked a far cry from the man who earned plaudits for his composed half-century in the victory against Scotland.

Let’s not patronize the men in crimson and black.

Even with the absence of their two best spinners, they had the personnel to pull off one or two victories in their last 4 games.

Perhaps we are being too harsh on a team playing their first ever global qualifier, but, one thing’s for sure: in the burning cauldrons of the ICC Academy and the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the mental demands of such a high-profile tournament proved too hot for Singapore to handle.

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