ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament - Singapore Start a Revolution

Resuming on the second day at 107 for 3 Singapore now hoped to play out the remaining 55 overs and build a huge lead but that was not to be because Mr. Haider, fresh from a good nights rest was in no mood to let us run away with the game. He took 6 wickets and caused a minor collapse in the middle order before Shoib, A.N. Balaji, Pramodh and Nantha Kumar made useful lower order contributions to get our score to 228 giving us maybe not a huge but nevertheless vital lead of 59 runs.

The wicket had really eased out by now and Hong Kong looked good in their second innings at 51 for 1 in before Shoib who had been bowling beautifully but without luck struck twice in one over to have Gunthorpe and Lamsam caught behind in the space of 3 balls. The light all of a sudden did not seem too good and the umpires offered it which understandably was taken by the batsmen.

We knew the 3rd day was always going to be a tough one and it would test us mentally. The wicket was offering nothing by now and the opposition seemed more intent on playing the day out for a draw than pushing us. Personally I had given ourselves a goal of chasing probably 150 in about 25 overs if we had to force a win, which meant despite the 2 hour showers in the morning we had 87 overs in the day.

This gave us 62 overs to take the remaining wickets, and when one is not playing their natural game 62 overs can be a very long time. We were ready to be patient, persevere and wear the opposition down. We only got one more wicket in the morning session which was taken by Shoib again. He bowled accurately and tirelessly from one side and since none of the other seamers were getting any help I looked to Balaji to tighten things up before lunch. Hong Kong went to lunch at 87 for 4, batting doggedly. I had dropped a difficult chance of Tabarak Dar and was wondering in my mind whether that might cost us the game. But then again we were putting so much pressure on the batting side we believed something had to give.

We switched to a double spin attack with an aggressive field setting. Chris Janik had shown a lot of promise with the ball in his first inning extracting a lot of turn and bounce on this wicket and with the right field in place he picked up 4 wickets after lunch. But a lot of credit must go to our fielding for taking some terrific catches and Balaji too who bowled 17 overs with 13 maidens taking 2 wickets for 4 runs, choking the batsmen totally. This is probably the best I have seen Balaji bowl for Singapore and long may it continue. Full credit to all the boys for sticking to the plan and being patient, and finally dismissing Hong Kong for 108 in the second innings, leaving us a lot of time to chase the required 50 runs for a historic win.

A despondent Afzaal Haider with his MoM Award.

We got there in about 11 overs with Afzaal Haider picking up another wicket to take his match haul to 7 and as we found out later earn the Man of the Match award despite finishing on the losing side. A true champion performer who gave his heart out for his side, but he was up against a team of 11 people all willing to contribute in some way or another and history was made when Chaminda finished the match with a lofted straight drive that landed just inside the fence before rolling over for 4 runs. First FTCT win for Singapore. The first win over Hong Kong in a 3 day game in 34 years. (Editor's note. It has come to our knowledge that Singapore beat Hong Kong in 1971. Mr. S N Houghton who captained the team in that match has promised to share his notes with us.) But personally the first time I saw total belief in the boys that we are a side that can do more than compete and where everyone was wanting to put their hand up for any challenge. A terrific team effort at the end of the day where everybody contributed in some way or the other. A great win....and as I said earlier....long may it continue!

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Filed October 12 2005