Singapore's Navin Param credits hockey skills for match-winning knock

"I kind of use what I've learnt in hockey... transfer those skills over to cricket which makes me not as orthodox"

Navin Param scoops over fine leg for six late in his match-winning knock, Bermuda v Singapore, ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier, Dubai, October 20, 2019

Navin Param scoops over fine leg for six late in his match-winning knock  •  Peter Della Penna

On the eve of his 24th birthday, it was Navin Param who gifted a thrilling victory to his Singapore teammates with a brilliantly crafted 72 not out off 41 balls that helped his team come from behind and stun Bermuda.
A core feature of Param's innings was his use of sweeps, reverse sweeps, scoops, ramps to score the bulk of his seven fours and four sixes behind square. The middle-order batsman said afterward that his background as a hockey player growing up enabled him to have the confidence in his unorthodox arsenal.
"It's fortunate that I actually started off playing hockey first before I played cricket," Param said after the win. "So growing up, I kind of use what I've learnt in hockey, the strong wrists and manipulation of the ball when you play hockey, so I just transfer those skills over to cricket which makes my cricket technique not as orthodox.
"So given that, over the years that I've worked with my coaches as well and my mentors, that's where I have got that 360 [degree] sort of gameplay. Today was just one of those days where it really clicked and all the hard work paid off. Basically when I bat, it's just looking at where the gaps are and putting the ball into those gaps."
Param entered at No. 6 at the fall of star batsman Tim David, who was dismissed cheaply for the second match in a row. Yet, Singapore has not fallen apart on either occasion thanks to contributions from the likes of Param. In and out of the team since making his senior debut as a 19-year-old in 2014, Param had gone two years since his last appearance before being recalled in September for Cricket World Cup Challenge League in Malaysia. He scored 66 in a win over the hosts and carried that form into this event.
"In our team, everyone has their own responsibilities and their targets to meet," Param said. "So I understand for my role, if I were to just hit my target, I know that eventually the team would get the desired result.
"When you look at it that way, it's a different mindset going into the game. You just do what you need to do as batsman. When you're in the game, you're just trying your best to get the singles and doubles and the odd boundary will come because bowlers will make mistakes at some point in the game because they are under pressure too."
Param also said the team has been galvanised by the efforts of his roommate on tour, Janak Prakash. The 19-year-old allrounder was struck in the head in his follow-through by a drive from Kyle Coetzer in Singapore's opening match, creating a gash on his forehead. But after being escorted off the field, Prakash only missed 17 balls before coming back to help Singapore to victory. He took three wickets against Bermuda at the death on Sunday too, not to mention hitting the winning boundary over mid-on to seal the chase after Param's legwork.
"When he first got hit, everyone got shocked," Param said. "But seeing him coming back on the field, not after 10 or 15 overs but immediately after only 10 minutes, he just got it wrapped up and came back, that's fantastic. That boosts the morale of the team drastically and that pushes us forward as a team because we understand that regardless of injuries, we are not one man down and he did show up and did perform.
"It just feels fantastic to have a team player like that and a friend of mine, who is also my roommate. So with that, the team morale has been fantastic and of course after this win I'm sure that God willing we can take this attitude of the team forward and win the rest of the matches and hopefully to win the tournament."

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna