When Oman failed to progress beyond the first round of the T20 World Cup last year, it deprived Jatinder Singh a return to play on the biggest stage of all at a ground he thrives at more than any other.
The Muscat-raised opener has a rare affinity with the Dubai International Stadium. Back in 2019, he played the decisive innings there that clinched Oman’s place at that T20 World Cup, with a qualifier win over Hong Kong.
Oman were deprived the chance of returning to the ground for the main event, but now they are back there as part of the qualifying campaign for the next 50-over World Cup, and Jatinder is singing again.
After back-to-back half-centuries against Namibia and Scotland at the ground, on Tuesday night he made the highest one-day international score by an Oman batsman there.
His 118 not out against Papua New Guinea gave his side a seven-wicket win, and two more points to extend their lead at the top of the Cricket World Cup League 2 table, ahead of UAE.
“Those things are all history and we can’t do anything about it,” Jatinder said of missing out on the Super 12 phase of the T20 World Cup in Dubai.
“We are only thinking positive and we want to move forward. Now we have a 50-over World Cup, we are trying to qualify for it, and right now the table looks good.
“Everybody in the dressing room has been pointing out that whenever I play at this ground I have a good scoring rate.
“I think it is a blessing. I am in a good zone because I am seeing the ball quite nicely. I just try to be in the present and watch the ball.”
It was Jatinder’s third century in ODI cricket, following his efforts against Nepal last year and the UAE in February. It also meant he broke Aqib Ilyas’ record for the highest score by an Oman batsman in ODIs.
Ilyas remains the leading run scorer in the Cricket World Cup League 2, despite his long-term absence through injury, and Jatinder says he cannot wait for the return of a player he has grown up with.
“I really miss him a lot,” he said of Ilyas. “He underwent surgery, and is recovering, but it will take six or seven months before he can come back onto the field.
“When you are playing, you don’t have these sorts of targets [record high scores] in your mind.
“Whatever opportunity comes, you just have to try and grab it with both hands. It feels really great when you play these kind of knocks for your country and when you play in a winning side, it gives you a lot of self confidence.”
Jatinder’s ton against PNG was notable for the fact he opted against performing his distinctive “thigh-five” celebration when he reached 50 – only to save it for when he got to three figure instead.
“I was so focused, it just slipped out of my mind,” he said. “From ball one, wherever I was trying to hit, I was getting it all right. I thought, fine, I am not going to think too far ahead. Just watch the ball carefully and pace my innings accordingly.
“One advantage I had was getting the singles all right, so I didn’t have to bother myself much worrying about big boundaries. I wanted to take it deep and see what the equation was.”