Amjad Mahboob
Amjad Mahboob, Singapore captain Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Singapore cricket team, which created history last month by beating Zimbabwe, a Test-playing nation, in the Instarem Singapore Tri-Nations T20 Series, is here to play in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers. The team had also beaten Nepal — a side ranked much above them.

Speaking to Gulf News, Singapore skipper Amjad Mahboob said: “It is a great achievement that we could beat a Test-playing nation like Zimbabwe. We are carrying the confidence from it and look forward to winning this tournament. The morale of the team is very high and as a captain, I believe our team will do well in the ICC T20 World Cup qualifier.”

Singapore’s triumph shocked the cricketing world as they are ranked No 21. Singapore posted a total of 181 and then restricted Zimbabwe to 177 to produce a four-run win.

The saga of Pakistan-born Mahboob is as interesting as the rise of the Singapore team. “My roots are from Pakistan and I am from Lahore. I used to play with tennis ball in Pakistan. I had played with Pakistan national team players like Mohammad Amir and Abdul Razzaq in tape-ball cricket. I came to Singapore in 2002 and only after that I got to play with a cricket ball. For the first few years, I did not even know that Singapore had cricket until one day some of my friends told me that some clubs do play cricket there. Initially, I used to pay from my pocket to play cricket. By in 2008, I reached the national team.”

Mahboob is delighted that people in Singapore now come out to watch cricket. “Because of our recent good performances in tournaments, many people now watch cricket. Our association is doing a fantastic job in spreading the game and they put floodlights for us to practise at night as all our players are employed and cannot practise during day time. Singapore is a multi-national country. There are many good cricketers from India and Pakistan there. Children from the age of six are taking up the sport and we have under-17 and Under-19 teams.”

Asked about the strength of his team, Mahboob said: “We have a deep batting line-up and good spin attack. I think these two factors will help us. The UAE conditions are favourable to spinners too and so we are looking forward.”