Cricket: Warming up for World Cup

Improved show... Singapore Open’s Jigar Patel bowling to the SL All-Stars.
PHOTO: Singapore Cricket Association

SINGAPORE'S indoor cricketers, preparing for September's World Cup in Dubai, gave a good account of themselves during a warm-up series with a Sri Lanka All-Stars team. .

Playing at the Indoor Premier Cricket Centre at Turf City, the national Open (no age restriction) team, who finished last out of six teams at the last World Cup in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2014, won the opening match by one run, before losing the subsequent ones by 13 runs and four runs respectively.

The Sri Lankan team had several World Cup veterans. Sri Lanka, who have been playing in the World Cup since 2002, are the top team in Asia and considered the fifth-best in the world.

"We were caught by surprise as the Singapore team gave the All-Stars a good fight," said Hiran de Mel, 52, the technical director of the Ceylon Indoor Cricket Association who watched the matches.

"They lost narrowly which shows the Singapore team have improved tremendously over the past two years.

Captain Rajiv Chandrasekar diving to escape a run out bid.
Photo: Singapore Cricket Association

"I was impressed with their batting and fielding. They are a sharp side and are developing into a strong unit."

Asela Pathirana, the coach of the All-Stars who captained Sri Lanka at the 2002 World Cup, had similar praise for the Singaporeans.

"They have high skills with good all-round abilities," said the 40-year-old. "If they continue to practise hard, they will be the team to watch at the Dubai World Cup."

Singapore fielded four new players in a bid to give them international exposure.

"It is a big achievement for us to get so close to the vastly experienced Sri Lankans," said captain Rajiv Chandrasekar, 32.

"We have gained a lot from this series and hopefully we will continue to do well in the future."

Another warm-up series with Malaysia has been scheduled for July.

The Singapore Masters (above 40s) lost their first match against their Sri Lanka All-Stars counterparts by 33 runs. But they bounced back to win the second match by 17 runs and draw the series 1-1.

"The over-40s team had been chasing a win at the international level for some time," said captain and coach G. Muralidharan, 52. "Everyone played brilliantly in the second match. We hope to make winning a habit now."

The Singapore Masters team finished last out of six teams at the World Masters Series in Birmingham, England, last year.

In Singapore, nearly 400 people play indoor cricket, which is fast paced and requires quick reflexes. It is catching on in Community Centres and schools and attracting many who play cricket for leisure

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