Singapore’s Under-13 and Under-17 indoor cricketers leave for the World Indoor Cricket Federation’s Junior World Series 2018 in New Zealand buoyed by the fact that the senior national team beat the mighty Sri Lanka on September 20 in their opening match at the Australasia Cup being played in Sri Lanka.
It was the first the seniors were beating a Test-playing nation. And it augurs well for the sport in Singapore which is still in its infancy.
Indoor cricket is played at a fast and furious pace. Players have to be fit and alert. Singapore’s young indoor cricketers have been training hard since early this year and the Under-13 and Under-17 teams took part in the Australian National Indoor Cricket Championships in Toowoomba in Queensland from July 6-16 which saw 40 teams from that country in action.
“We have an aggressive team,” said Singapore U-13 team’s coach Anand Nandakumar, 46. “At the Under-13 level the gap between us and top teams such as Australia and New Zealand is not not much. Our players have the skills and if they adapt to the conditions in Christchurch quickly, they can beat any team.”
The other teams the Singapore U-13s and U-17s will encounter at the Action Indoor Sports Hornby in Christchurch from September 29 to October 6 are New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand A.
“It’s a long tournament with many back-to-back matches,” said Anand. “So, physical fitness and stamina too matter a lot. Our boys have prepared well. But they will have to last the distance.”
Singapore’s Under-13s are a good all-round side. They have been performing consistently in warm-up matches over the past few months. Their biggest asset is that they have five spinners. In the past it has been noticed that top sides such as Australia and New Zealand are not adept against spin. “If the top players perform up to their abilities, reaching the semi-final play-offs is a possibility,” said Anand.
The U-13s will be heavily dependent on Abhyuday Chhajer, Dev Pal and Sidhanth Srikanth to deliver the goods.
Abhyuday, 13, is a stylish and aggressive left-handed batsman. He also bowls fastish off-spin and is an excellent fielder. Dev, the 12-year-old captain, bowls fast and is a dependent bat. He is also an inspirational fielder and has a mature head. Sidhanth, 13, is the wicket-keeper and the best batsman in the side technically.
“The trip to Australia provided a reality check,” said Dev. “We learnt what we had to work on. We are a better side now, we know what to do. Our strength is our bowling and we are a good chasing side. We aren’t afraid. If we are consistent, we will make it to the semi-final play-offs.”
The Under-17s are without three of their regular players who cannot go to New Zealand because of exams. Yet, captain Hamza Khan, 16, reckons the side should do well because they have been playing consistently well over the past two months.
“We have had two months to prepare,” he said. “It’s a good team. I’m sure we will do well.”