(October 22, 2021) When Jatinder Singh broke into a celebratory dance by imitating Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan‘s thigh patting style after defeating Papua New Guinea in the T20 World Cup recently, the world couldn’t stop lauding the cricketer from Oman who has his roots in India. The 32-year-old in a short time has become the rising star from Oman, who is upping his game with every match.
An ardent fan of Virat Kohli, Singh is slowly but steadily climbing up the ladder in cricket, and bringing Oman’s team to the forefront. But it took him years of hard work to make his presence felt in the cricketing world.
From the gullies of Ludhiana to Omani cricket
Born in Ludhiana to Sikh parents in 1989, Singh moved to Oman in 2003 where his dad Gurmail Singh worked with the Royal Oman Police as a carpenter. It was in 1975 that his father immigrated to the Arab country, but the family followed suit only in the early 2000s. Singh, who was passionate about cricket even as a child, would often play gully cricket with his friends and cousins in Punjab. But it was only after moving to the Indian School in Muscat that he began playing cricket for his school team. It wasn’t a smooth ride for this then teenager who had to play on cemented wickets, since there was no turf in the country. “We had cemented wickets and later we shifted to astroturf. It was only two years back that we got our first stadium. In the coming months, we will have the second ground ready,” Singh told Hindustan Times in an interview.
Though things weren’t easy, Singh loved every moment of being on the field. After playing junior cricket for teams like Sidiq Jewellers, he struck gold when he was selected for the Oman U-19 team in 2007 as wicket-keeper batsman wherein he played five matches for the Under-19 Elite Cup. In 2012, he made his T20 debut in ICC League 2 for Oman by playing two matches in WCL Division Three tournament.
The following years saw this Global Indian playing for corporate teams like Enchance Cricket and Gulf Cricket. He made his T20 international debut for Oman in 2015 against Afghanistan, and since then there has been no looking back. “When I played against Afghanistan in my international debut, it was like a dream come true for me,” he told Crictracker. From playing against the United Arab Emirates in 2016 to being picked for the Oman squad for the 2018 ICC World Cup League Division Two tournament, Singh has strengthened his position.
A regular job with cricketing dream
Though cricket is slowly gaining popularity in Oman, it still isn’t a highly-paid job. In fact, most cricketers hold 9-to-5 jobs and practice in their free time; Singh is no exception. “Cricket in Oman sees teams competing at the corporate level and national team cricketers are not highly paid like India. I joined Arabian industries in 2011 before joining Khimji Ram Das Company in 2014 and now I work in the administration department. After the practice sessions in morning, I have to be on my job from 8.30 am to 5 pm,” he told Indian Express.
Despite his regular job, Singh has showed tremendous skill on the field. In the last six years, Singh has played 19 ODIs and 29 T20Is for Oman, and the cricketer has amassed a total of 434 ODIs runs and 770 T20Is runs in his career so far. “Whenever I play wearing the Oman jersey, I tell my family that now they have two countries to support in cricket. In the 2014 Asia Cup, I got to meet the Indian team members, and it was a memorable moment for me,” he added.
It was in September this year that Singh scored his maiden ODI hundred when he scored 107 runs off 62 balls against Nepal. It was the second-fastest century by any batsman from an ICC associate nation. “To score my first ODI century last month was also special and it made me believe that I can score big at the international level,” he added.
His recent unbeaten knock of 73 runs off 43 balls to help Oman score a ten-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in Group B round one match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup has catapulted him to the league of dependable cricketers in team. Singh, who began playing on cemented wickets, has now become a popular name in the world of cricket.