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England vs Ireland 1st ODI: Exclusive: Simi Singh lives Irish dream, relieves watching Tendulkar, playing against Kohli

Simi Singh cherishes his dream of playing for Ireland

Bengaluru, July 30: When England face Ireland in the first ODI at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Friday (July 30), it will mark the resumption of white ball cricket after the Coronavirus-enforced break. While the cricketing fraternity in general would be glad to see the sport opening another chapter in its comeback, an Indian connect will make the series all the more appealing to the fans in this part of the globe.

Simi Singh, the Ireland all-rounder, has strong roots in India and had represented Punjab in the age-group categories until the under-19 segment. England will face Ireland in three ODIs and all the matches will be played at Southampton.

"We will be underdogs as England are the current world champions. But they will be coming to the series without some big players like Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler etc. But they still have some big names and we need to put pressure on them consistently with bat and ball. It is not easy against a side like England but we are confident that we can do it," Simi told MyKhel.

The series will be played behind closed doors and as per the new norm set by the ICC saliva will not be used to shine the ball. Simi said they need to adapt to the new world and new playing conditions.

"It's more to do with the red ball (using saliva to polish the ball) when you're trying to get the swing. So, with the white ball, a lot of time you'll be bowling scrambled seam as well so it doesn't really come into play that much. But it's just habit more than anything else, just getting used to it some new norms and playing conditions, and I think if we do it in practice enough, we should be able to do it in the games as well," he said.

Though Simi relies more on his off-spin to make an impact in matches, the 33-year-old can make some telling contributions with the bat too, his experience of opening for Punjab in grade cricket has been quite handy.

"I used to open the innings those days and the off-spin gave me another avenue to contribute to the team. As any young, aspiring cricketer in the early 2000s, I also had watched Sachin Tendulkar a lot and still keep watching videos his batting. Other than that, I get inspired watching players like Roger Federer whose commitment and desire to excel is a motivation for all," said Simi.

Simi keeps some bright memories of playing cricket in India. "I played a lot of junior cricket in the mid-2000s. There were a lot of talented cricketers around and I had faced Ishant Sharma and played against Virat Kohli in some under-16 matches. During those days, they were among many aspirants but now they have become big stars and it is an amazing feeling. When I played against India, it did strike me that I had already played against some of those cricketers," he said.

The non-selection to Punjab senior team after scoring heavily in the under-19 days was the primary reason of him shifting base to Ireland. "Those were tough days for me even with a friend of mine already staying in Ireland and playing some cricket. I reached there in student visa and even had to return after the expiry of it. But playing cricket for teams like Malahide CC, YMCA etc helped me a lot and then I was allowed to apply for Irish citizenship in late 2016 and received it in 2017. It was a tough but satisfying journey," he said.

Simi so far has played 18 ODIs and 24 T20Is for Ireland since making his debut in 2017 against New Zealand in a one-day match. He so far has taken 18 and 21 wickets respectively.

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Story first published: Thursday, July 30, 2020, 9:45 [IST]
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