by Lewis Williams
Once again, we were pleased to have the opportunity to sponsor the Singapore national indoor cricket team in their quest for glory in the recent New Zealand – Asia Cup. This time around, things were a little different, though – check out how cool that Sinch logo looks on their kit!
Held between April 3rd – 6th, this was the first ever international cricket tournament – indoor or outdoor – to be held on Singaporean soil, and with Sinch’s very own Rajiv Chandrasekar as vice-captain of the host nation, we couldn’t be prouder.
The competition brought together some of the best cricketers in the world. New Zealand are regarded as an indoor cricket powerhouse; they have competed in 7 (yes, seven!) World Cup finals since 1995. Not only this, they were able to call on players like BJ Crook, who has a first-class century to his name in the outdoor game for Wellington. This is the level we’re competing at!
The rest of the field in this inaugural tournament was made up of teams throughout Asia, with India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the UAE represented. As hosts, Singapore were able to field a developmental ‘A’ side as well – with Sinch sponsoring both teams!
New Zealand’s pedigree is well-known, and with the appetite for cricket in India more akin to a religion, it was always going to be a tough yet exciting few days as the seven sides pitted their wits against each other. There was never any doubt that the players involved would knock it out of the park – not literally of course, remember this is the indoor game!
In a round-robin format, each side played each other once with the top four sides advancing to the semi-finals. It all culminated in a nail-biting final, with New Zealand following the form book and defeating Sri Lanka 71 runs to 60. It was close, but not close enough for The Lions.
Fittingly, the final was played between the two sides who finished ‘one-two’ in the group stage, and the Indian Ocean nation nearly went against the script – their tail wagged and the last wicket partnership nearly got them over the line, their fourth skin being their highest-scoring in the match by some margin. However, an 11-run defeat was confirmed, swiftly followed by wild Kiwi celebrations. Sri Lanka will be left ruing their poor start in the first skin, scoring just 6 runs, but such is the nature of the sport.
Our congratulations go out to the Black Caps, and we extend a hearty ‘well played’ to the Sri Lankans who did their burgeoning reputation no harm at the tournament.
Given the nature of international indoor cricket, sides do not compete against each other too often when compared to outdoor cricket, so it’s intriguing to see how teams have improved over time. Despite home advantage and having an easier time acclimatizing to the humid conditions, this tournament was always going to be an uphill battle for Singapore.
At the end of the round robin format, our boys finished fifth, just 6 points off India in fourth. If it wasn’t for the odd mistake in the field, a little more attacking intent in the early skins, or a few borderline LBW decisions, we could have been in the semi-finals! Despite a thumping 120-60 win against Malaysia in the group, Singapore had to make do with a place in the Plate Championship – but boy, did they do us proud by winning it! All-rounder Sharan Swaminathan even managed to get his hands on one of the coveted MVP awards. Scoring 87 runs in his 6 matches, an average of 14.50 and a strike rate of 116.00, he certainly produced with the bat, and with the ball, he snaffled 12 wickets an average of 2.00. Believe us when we say that these are impressive numbers! You deserve to be recognized for these performances, Sharan, good hustle out there.
As a sport in its own right, indoor cricket blossomed in popularity during the 1970s in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and South Africa. Asian countries have been slower to embrace the sport due to the prevalence of ‘gully’ cricket, which is typically played on the bustling streets of the subcontinent. However, with its accessibility during rainy monsoon seasons and great tournaments like this putting it on the map, the game has a great chance of developing further!
Finally, great job guys, you have done your country proud. We’re looking forward to being side-by-side with Singapore at the Masters World Series in Cape Town later this year already!