Virandeep leads Malaysia to Div 2 cricket title

Malaysia U-19 captain's unbeaten 49 led home team victory over Singapore to be crowned champions of ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Asia Division 2.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 8 Oct 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Malaysia U-19 captain Virandeep Singh playing a shot during his unbeaten 49, as wicket-keeper Hanshul Deep watches. Despite the six-wicket defeat, Singapore have qualified for the U-19 Asia Cup.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN CRICKET ASSOCIATION
Malaysia U-19 captain Virandeep Singh playing a shot during his unbeaten 49, as wicket-keeper Hanshul Deep watches. Despite the six-wicket defeat, Singapore have qualified for the U-19 Asia Cup.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN CRICKET ASSOCIATION

Captain Virandeep Singh guided Malaysia home with an unbeaten 49 to emerge champions of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Asia Division 2 in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (6 Oct).

A middle-order collapse effectively derailed Singapore’s chances of winning, reports the Straits Times.

The home side struggled for runs as Singapore’s bowlers kept it tight. But a patient 49 not out from captain Virandeep Singh took Malaysia to 135-4 in 41.5 overs, giving them the trophy after a six-wicket win with 49 balls to spare.

“We failed to build partnerships and, though our bowlers bowled well, our score was difficult to defend,” Singapore coach Shoib Razak told the Singapore newspaper. “Things could have been different if we had put on another 40 runs.”

Opting to bat at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur against hosts Malaysia, Singapore started brightly, with opener Rohan Rangarajan scoring 38. But, from 40-1, they lost five wickets for the addition of only 54 runs, before being all out for 134 in 40.2 overs.

A well deserved title for Malaysia who have won all 6 matches in the tournament. Virandeep Singh and Syed Aziz performed as expected but it was also good to see Hafiz Khair, Islah Muhaimin and a few others step up, according to a report at the Malaysia Cricket blog.


Malaysian cricket team qualifies for U-19 Asia Cup  (Asia Samachar, 5 Sept 2016)

South cricket team won Lall Singh Trophy, MSSSC plans to introduce game in annual games (Asia Samachar, 21 July 2016)

Virandeep to captain Malaysia U19 cricket (Asia Samachar, 19 Aug 2015)


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    Onus on young Virandeep Singh to foster a cricket culture in Malaysia

    by Tristan Lavalette • Last updated on Fri, 16 Dec, 2016,

    In early October, away from the hubbub of downtown Kuala Lumpur complete with its never ending traffic and myriad of shopping malls, a cricket match with much nationalistic stake on the line was delicately unfurling.

    At Kinrara Academy Oval, located in Puchong, about a 30-minute drive from the pounding heart of Kuala Lumpur’s metropolis, the final of the Under-19s 50-over Asia division two World Cup Qualifier was being contested with gusto between arch rivals Malaysia and Singapore. Perhaps it doesn’t quite match the hostile rivalry between India and Pakistan but, still, Malaysia versus Singapore makes the juices flow in these parts; after all, they were part of the same country a little over 50 years ago.

    The crowd was sparse, predictably, mainly comprised with the kin of players. The ground is flanked by a major highway making it somewhat of a hazard for passing motor vehicles. This was the case a decade ago during the One-Day International tri-series featuring India, Australia and the West Indies – the last time full members were seen in Malaysia.

    There are still whispers in these parts about that spectacle, which featured the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Mitchell Johnson, a young gunslinger back then during his breakout international tournament.

    Longtime Malaysian cricket observers still gush over that tournament and chuckle about some long blows almost landing into the aforementioned highway. On this day, amid a smog of tension, the whizzing vehicles were in no danger. Lusty shots were few and far between, as the nerves of the situation seemingly paralysed the batsmen.

    Runs were at a trickle with Singapore making a paltry 134 batting first but an easy chase was unforthcoming as the home side lost two early wickets during a stuttering start. However, easing local nerves was the towering figure of Virandeep Singh, the Malaysian Under-19 captain, who stands at over 6 foot 3.

    Aged 17, Virandeep still has a broomstick figure having not filled out his lanky frame and perhaps there is a late growth spurt to come, but he already has a commanding presence at the crease. It isn’t hard to envision him blossoming into a Kevin Pietersen-type batsman, who is able to look snarling quicks straight in the eye.

    However, Virandeep doesn’t attempt to bludgeon the attack like Pietersen. He prefers to play himself in before shifting gears when set, modelling himself on Virat Kohli, his idol. In a match-winning performance against Singapore that would have earned a nod of approval from Kohli, Virandeep started slowly in a bid to straighten Malaysia’s wobbles.

    Eventually, when his team reached a position of strength, Virandeep put his foot down and, fittingly, thumped consecutive boundaries down the ground to finish the contest and propel Malaysian cricket to glory and some welcome bragging rights over their neighbour.

    Virandeep’s heroics were hardly a revelation to those close to him. He’s long been a rising star of Malaysian cricket, confirmed when earlier in the year he became the youngest Malaysian player to debut in the senior ranks.

    It’s been quite the meteoric rise for Virandeep, who started playing cricket about a decade ago as a six-year-old. Despite its vast Indian populace and culture evident throughout the country, cricket isn’t a mainstream sport in Malaysia. However, hailing from a Punjabi background, cricket was in his blood with his dad and brother having played the game. Soon enough, Virandeep followed suit even though most of his friends didn’t know what to make of the quirky ball and ball sport. “As I progressed, I got selected by the school to play for the school then I slowly moved on to the State level,” he tells Cricbuzz. “That’s where I slowly developed an interest for the sport. My parents really supported me.”

    Leading his team in the current Youth Asia Cup in Sri Lanka is a particularly cherished moment for Virandeep. Malaysia U-19 is pitted in a tough group against India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. They started the tournament ingloriously with a comprehensive 235-run loss against the powerhouse India U-19 side on Thursday (December 15) after being routed for just 54.

    However, results are somewhat trivial for emerging cricket nations like Malaysia, who strive to play more against the elite in a bid to fast track their development. “We honestly have really progressed…. the only part we are lacking is exposure at the international level,” Virandeep says. “The only way to gain exposure and improve is by playing against international players. There’s no use of only playing in local leagues as it is just the same standard.”

    Unlike in established cricket countries, a major dilemma for nations like Malaysia is that talented players get forever lost from the sport due to a lack of financial incentive coupled with family demands to pursue tertiary studies. Virandeep is aiming to study business but is longing to play cricket in Australia or the UK, like former Malaysian batsman Arul Suppiah who enjoyed a long career with Somerset.

    “In more established nations like Australia, you can make cricket your profession but in Malaysia it’s not like that,” he says. “In Malaysia if you leave your studies, cricket can’t really support you in terms of money. But Malaysian Cricket Association has been doing a good job by supporting us.

    “That’s the problem for Malaysian cricket though, players often totally lose interest in the sport once they leave school,” he adds. “Maybe this is something we can work on. Right now, cricket is becoming more popular in Malaysia…maybe that might help get students interested to come back to play after they leave school.”

    It’s a huge responsibility for a youngster, but Virandeep is well aware that his captaincy is much more than merely about tactical nous, and wins and losses. He has to help foster a cricket culture and inspire belief in his players to deter wavering passion. Seemingly, it is a burden his tender shoulders can handle.

    “It is important for me as a captain, to lead from the front and welcome the new guys, making sure they are comfortable with the team,” he says. “I really hope that we start making the sport popular in Malaysia and to attract more crowds and supporters for us. That would boost our confidence and morale.

    “Just like how the seniors (Malaysian national team) inspired me and other juniors,” he added. “Now it’s our turn to inspire others. For Malaysian cricket, we are moving in the right direction.”

    © Cricbuzz