Dubai: It will be a historic day for the UAE cricket team on Monday when they walk in to play their first match of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 match against the Netherlands at Sylhet.
It also marked the end of a 18-year-wait to play on the world stage after they played in the 1996 World Cup in the 50-over format.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone after their pre-match training session, some of the UAE players could not contain their excitement. Vice-captain Rohan Mustafa said: “It’s a great moment for us and we are all so thrilled. Our aim is very high. We are all confident that we can qualify to the next stage by defeating the Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe.”
The excitement also made them work hard during the training session at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium from 3pm on Sunday under the watchful eyes of their coach Aaqib Javed. Allrounder Amjad Javed, who has played many whirlwind knocks and can also generate excellent pace, sharpened his skills at the nets more than he does every day.
Asked about his feeling at getting to play in a World Cup, Javed said: “It is the biggest moment of my life and a lot of people are sharing the excitement with me, especially my parents and my family and office colleagues, who had all supported me. They are all as excited like me.
“The excitement of every player in the squad is difficult to explain. We are all working very hard towards our first match of the World Cup, aiming for a positive start. We are all confident that we can make it to the second round of the tournament,” added Javed, who captains Fly Emirates team.
The UAE played two warm-up matches against Bangladesh and Nepal, losing to Bangladesh narrowly, but trounced Nepal. Wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil, who topscored in UAE’s victory over Nepal, will be realising a dream that he cherished from school days when he began playing from Mumbai and even went on to represent Mumbai Under-19 team along with many Indian players.
“I am really thrilled. The fact that I ensured UAE’s victory over Nepal makes me even happier. I am all ready to give my best in the World Cup matches as I am feeling so good.”
Patil recently made his One-day International debut against Scotland through an unbeaten 99 in the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifier in Lincoln in New Zealand.
“It was unfortunate not to get a century on debut as I ran out of partners, but the feeling of representing UAE at the highest level, especially in a World Cup is special.”
Coach Javed summed up the feeling in the team: “When I took charge, I told them that they can realise their dream of playing in a World Cup if they are ready to work hard. I told them there is room for improvement and convinced them that whatever be the circumstances and the hurdles, they can achieve success if they are determined. They are today playing in the World Cup due to their sheer hard work.”
Zimbabwe vs Ireland, 1.30 pm
UAE vs Netherlands, 5.30 pm
Both matches at Sylhet.
Live telecast on OSN Sports HD Cricket.