‘Extra special’ first: Mohali cricketer hits ODI ton batting at no. 8 for Ireland

On Friday night, after Mohali lad and Ireland cricketer 33-year-old Simi Singh became the first-ever player in ODI cricket history to score a hundred batting at number eight position in the third ODI match of Ireland-South Africa series at Malahide Cricket Club, Dublin, Ireland, the now Irish citizen made a call to his parents Amarjeet Singh and Daljeet Kaur in Mohali and wife Agamdeep Kaur in Dublin.

Singh, who surpassed England’s Chris Woakes’ knock of 95 runs against Sri Lanka at Nottingham in 2016, to create the new ODI record, incidentally had started playing club cricket at Malahide Cricket Club after he moved to Ireland in 2006. Though Ireland lost the match by 70 runs and the three-match series was tied 1-1, Singh termed the moment an emotional one.

“To score my first ODI hundred at that very ground, where I started club cricket on my arrival in Ireland is a special feeling. To achieve the feat along with the ODI record of scoring the highest score for a number eight batsman makes it extra special. To come at a score of 92 for 6 and to face bowlers like Anrich Nortje and Tabraiz Shamsi was a tough situation and such a knock gives you a lot of confidence. After the match, the whole Ireland team and whole South Africa team, including SA captain Quinton de Kock, congratulated me. That’s what I told my parents and wife,” said Singh, who remained unbeaten on 100 runs off 91 balls and also claimed one wicket in the match.

While his father Amarjit Singh worked as a Punjabi lecturer at a school in Chandigarh, Simi played his junior cricket for Punjab before making the decision to shift to Ireland, where he studied hotel management. The all-rounder would play cricket for clubs like Malahide CC, Old Balverydale CC, YMCA CC in the Leinster Cup apart from imparting coaching in various clubs. Singh became an Irish citizen in 2017 and would make his ODI debut against New Zealand at Malahide Cricket Club the same year. Singh has so far played in 30 ODIs with a total of 34 wickets and 543 runs apart from 24 T20I with 207 runs and 21 wickets. Earlier this year, Simi had achieved the feat of the third most economical five-for-spell with five wickets for 10 runs against UAE in an ODI series at UAE in February. The last one year has seen Singh playing in the ODI series against England apart from series against Netherlands, Afghanistan, Netherlands, UAE and South Africa.

“Last year, Ireland was among the first countries to play international cricket in a bio-bubble when we played against England. I spent time in North County between the various series polishing by batting and bowling skills. I focused on batting against pace bowlers apart from watching my batting videos. I also worked on my bowling speed and variations apart from working on wrist spin and googly along with my leg spin. Chief coach Graham Ford and other coaches have also been helping me a lot,” Simi said.

The Ireland cricket team gained 15 points in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League in the qualification process of 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup with the drawn series against South Africa. The team will also play this year’s T20 World Cup Round 1 matches at Oman in October-November later this year and Simi’s focus is the next series against Zimbabwe. “Of course, playing in a World Cup is every player’s dream but I am right now thinking about our next series against Zimbabwe. About the T-20 World Cup in Oman and UAE, Ireland team has played against teams like Netherlands, Afghanistan at those venues a lot of times and it will help the team,” Singh said.

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