Form of Indian all-rounder flourishes after setback
CRICKET - GEORGE HEAGNEY
Ten years out of the game have done nothing to stop United's Sonpreet Singh reaching the form of his life in Manawatu club cricket this season.
Singh played for Punjab University in the All-Indian competition in 1996 and 1997, but hurt his lower back and that put him out of the game. He didn't return to the sport until 2007, after he had moved to New Zealand to attend university.
This season, Singh has taken 28 wickets at an average of 9.4 and has scored 303 runs at 43.3.
"I love the one-day cricket. That's where I belong," he said. "I just love the one-dayers. I'm following the basics this year: good line and length and wait for the batsman to make mistakes."
He did not have a secret for his form this season but said it was one of those seasons where he was putting in the effort and the rewards were coming his way.
The shorter form of the game is what he prefers, and he thought he was close to his best form with the ball.
In India, they play a lot of 30 or 40- over games, so that's how he got accustomed to one-dayers.
He's comfortable batting at No3 or opening, and loves to be aggressive in the power play.
"From the last few seasons I'm pretty much happy there; you go on and play the fast bowlers, which I like. I'm basically an attacking batsman. I don't like to go out there and block, block, block."
Originally from Patiala, north of Dehli, Singh played for Punjab University in the All-Indian inter-universities championship.
Other players to come out of this competition include Indian stars Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh and a number of Indian first-class cricketers.
After he hurt his back, the 36-year-old accountant was out of the game for family and work reasons and while he said not playing cricket for 10 years took its toll, doing the basics was paying off for him.
"I think it's getting better with experience. I love it. The cricket's been fantastic over here; great atmosphere."
Singh has not thought about a callup to the Manawatu side, but if he keeps making an impact on the club scene he is hoping he may get an opportunity to pull on the green cap.
When he first started playing in New Zealand, he turned out for United's fourth-grade team, before quickly moving up the grades.
In his season in fourth grade he scored about 1000 runs, including 172 and 155, and four or five 50s in only 40-over games.
United captain Robbie James said after Singh's performance in fourth grade, people started taking notice.
"We saw him in the nets and we thought this guy's way too good for that," James said.
"He came up and played some seconds and we realised he was way too good for that, too, and he's been playing senior cricket ever since."
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