S'pore cricketers aim high in 1st T20 World Cup qualifiers

The Singapore cricket team in high spirits after reaching their maiden ICC Men's T20 World Cup qualifiers. They bowled out Nepal to win by 82 runs on Sunday to clinch the regional finals. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CRICKET ASSOCIATION

The Singapore cricket team will earn their first shot at qualifying for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup after beating world No. 11 Nepal en route to winning the Asian regional final on Sunday.

Singapore, 23rd in the International Cricket Council's T20 rankings, will face nine higher-ranked sides in an attempt to earn one of six spots in the seventh edition of the Cup in Australia next year.

Head coach Bilal Asad is unfazed despite his team having to face the likes of Scotland (No. 12), the Netherlands (13), Zimbabwe (14) and Ireland (15) in the 14-team global qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates in October.

"We are not only aiming to play well in World Cup qualifiers but are also confident enough to win it and take Singapore cricket to the next level," said the 40-year-old former Pakistani cricketer.

"I'm more than confident to see this team play in the T20 World Cup with the same exuberance."

The regional final, held at the Indian Association ground in Balestier Road, saw Singapore go on an unbeaten run, starting with a 33-run upset of world No. 21 Qatar.

They earned a point after the match against Kuwait (No. 28) was called off owing to bad weather, before beating Malaysia (No. 35) by eight wickets.

With Singapore leading Nepal by just a point, the final match between the top two proved to be the decider.

Tim David, Rohan Rangarajan and Manpreet Singh were the key men for Singapore as they posted a total of 191-6 in 20 overs, with a quick 9.55 run rate.

With superb bowling from off-spinner Selladore Vijayakumar, the home team romped to an 82-run win with 30 balls to spare.

Captain Amjad Mahboob said: "Every player had their role to play and they did it fantastically. We gave our best in this tournament and representing Singapore in the global qualifiers is a dream come true for the whole team."

Mahmood Gaznavi, president of the Singapore Cricket Association, said: "We have broken one boundary and we need to break more.

"We need to raise our game and know we need to put in hard work to do so."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline S'pore cricketers aim high in 1st T20 World Cup qualifiers. Subscribe