For Jatinder Singh, a visit to India is about revisiting his roots. Born in Ludhiana, before shifting to Oman way back in 2003, Jatinder, a middle-order batsman, is a vital cog in the Oman side, which is seeking to make an impactful debut in the upcoming World T20.
He is also perhaps representative of all sub-continent players who form the backbone of many affiliate and associate teams set to play in the World T20.
Oman, UAE and Hong Kong teams all have a strong sub-continent flavour. In Oman itself, there are nine Pakistan-origin players besides five, namely — Ajay Lalcheta (Gujarat), Jatinder (Punjab), Rajesh Kumar Ranpura (Gujarat), Vaibhav Wategaonkar (Mumbai), Munis Ansari (MP) — of Indian origin.
“I started playing cricket in Oman only. I did my schooling from Indian School, Muscat, and that is where I had the first brush with the game. We still have many relatives in India and we do visit them time to time, but coming here for the World T20 is in itself an exciting thing for me. It’s for the first time that I have been inside the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium,” Jatinder, who has played nine T20 internationals for his country, said.
Balancing 9-to-5 job and cricket
Like many others in various associate teams, Jatinder also has a 9-to-5 job. He works in the sales division of Khimji Ramdas, an Oman-based conglomerate. “Over the years we have gotten used to working eight hours and then playing cricket,” the 26-year-old said.
Sharing the struggles the Oman team had to go through in the initial years, Jatinder said that when he started, there was no turf in the country. “We just 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. Cricket has started gaining popularity. We have 92 teams in various divisions — A to J in Oman’s domestic league. Only top seven teams get to play on turf and it’s from there the national squad is picked,” Jatinder, who idolises AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, said.
Loyalty firmly with Oman
Son of Gurmail Singh, who is employed with Royal Oman Police, Jatinder has three brothers. “I am the only one who has gone all the way. My younger brother Jaspreet Singh is captain of national youth development team in Oman, while my elder brother also plays cricket,” he said.
Despite having a team drawn from various sub-continent nations, where in former Sri Lankan international Duleep Mendis is the coach and former India international Sunil Joshi handles spin department, Jatinder said the team is very much united and focused on the task on hand.
“As far as my cricket is concerned I have no regrets. I am thankful to God, my coaches, friends and family who have supported me. I relish the opportunity to take the field for Oman. I am geared up do well. The aim for the team is to at least register an upset against a top gun in the tournament. Most probably my family and relatives will in stands and watch me making a World T20 debut in India and this also spurs me on to give my best,” he said.