Born October 21, 1979, Sarandeep Singh is a former Indian cricketer who played 3 Tests and 5 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for the side. Sarandeep did not get many chances for the national side as the availability of other spinners made the competition tough and road difficult for him. He had a good First-Class record and did well on the domestic circuit. After his playing days were over, he also tried his hand in cricket administration and currently serves as one of the national selectors in the selection panel. On his birthday, let s take a look at 14 lesser-known facts about the wily off-spinner.

1. Impactful Test debut

A debutant is always under pressure to justify his selection and come out hard in his maiden game. Yet, there are few cricketers who manage to soak in the pressure and grab the opportunity with both the hands. Sarandeep made a solid debut in Test cricket in November 2000. He claimed six wickets against Zimbabwe in Nagpur with his wily off-spin and announced himself on the grandest stage. Sarandeep had two wickets to his name in the first innings while he ran through the Zimbabwean line up in the second innings with four scalps. The match did not conclude with a result but Sarandeep was remembered for his valiant effort.

2. The colour of the turban

Sarandeep used to wear a maroon-coloured turban during the matches.

3. Penchant for wearing fancy t-shirts

Sarandeep mostly wears Mickey-mouse t-shirts for parties, which without a doubt have also suited him.

4. Ability to bat

Sarandeep showed some solid resistance and grit in his third Test against West Indies at Georgetown. He batted with solid confidence with Rahul Dravid and faced 120 deliveries for his unbeaten knock of 39. He walked out to bat when India were reeling at 275 for the loss of seven wickets. He played well and ensured India did not lose another wicket and stitched a partnership of 120 runs with Dravid. The match ended in a draw but Sarandeep was praised for his batting abilities.

5. Debut as a specialist for India

Sarandeep s debut against Zimbabwe was also a bold move for India after six months. He was playing as the specialist off-spinner in the side after a span of six months.

6. Maidens to start with

Sarandeep was given the opportunity to roll his arms over on his Test debut after Zimbabwe already had 145 runs on the board. He left no stones unturned as he delivered four maiden overs to start with. He exploited the conditions to get some turn along with bounce as he scalped two wickets in next 10 balls.

7. Started as a batsman

Like many others, Sarandeep initially began his cricketing career as a batsman at junior level. He debuted against Haryana for Punjab in 1998-99 and scored 45 while did not manage to taste any success with the ball.

8. Made it to India Under-19

Sarandeep made it to the India Under-19 side riding on some terrific performance in the Super League. He picked eight wickets and steered his side to a dominating position but their batsmen floundered while chasing 176. He was drafted into the India Under-19 side after this against Sri Lanka at home.

9. Selector

Sarandeep is a part of the current selection panel as he is now rendering his services as a national selector of India.

10. Won the game for India A against seniors

Sarandeep played a vital role in NKP Salve Challenger Trophy encounter against India s senior team in 2000 while playing for India A. He picked three wickets and remained unbeaten on 12, which also included a six to carry his team over the line.

11. Got into the NCA

Sarandeep made it to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) after an impressive run in the 1999-2000 Ranji Trophy season, where he picked 37 wickets at 19.43. This performance drafted him into the first batch of trainees in May 2000.

12. Trained under watchful eyes

At the National Cricket Academy, Sarandeep honed his skills under the watchful eyes of legendary cricketers Erapalli Prassana and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.

13. Chiselled his path once again into the national side

Sarandeep s good run in the 2001 domestic season saw him being picked into the national side for a Test against England at Bengaluru.

14. Shift

For 2006-07 Ranji season, Sarandeep shifted from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh as the latter were in need of a spinner. He had a good season with 28 wickets at 22.28.

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)