Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s historic first qualification for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year is the realisation of a dream for a bunch of amateur cricketers. They have toiled hard, utilising all their time after their day jobs to sharpen their skills and their coach, Aaquib Javed, has been instrumental in transforming them into a winning unit.
Their 10-run win over the Netherlands on Wednesday will go down as a golden chapter in the UAE’s cricket history and a reflection of players’ determination to battle against the toughest of odds.
“My players have been doing well for the last six to seven months in all forms of the game and this is a special moment. I attribute the victory to the enormous belief in their abilities,” said Javed, a former Pakistan Test star.
Defending a moderate total of just 117 inspired by their skipper Khurram Khan, who top-scored with 32 runs, their bowlers and fielders gave their best on the field to thwart the Netherlands. Despite most of them being in their late 30s, they threw themselves at every ball, stopped singles with agility and cut off boundaries brilliantly. Each and every bowler bowled a perfect length to the field set by their experienced skipper Khan.
”The hard work that everyone had put in over the last one year has been rewarded through this huge achievement. It was a wonderful performance. All credit to all my players, especially Shadeep Silva, who bowled tightly to give us a good start, and also Nasir Aziz and all the others, who fielded brilliantly.
Silva, who won the man-of-the match award for his deadly spell of four overs for just nine runs and a brilliant catch, said: “It was my dream to play in a World Cup and I am so thrilled at having achieved it. All that I did was to bowl wicket to wicket. I have been regularly opening the bowling for UAE and have learned how to contain the batsmen.”
Mansoor Pasha, the manager of the UAE squad, attributed the team’s victory to hard work. “I have been managing this team since the Singapore Asian tournament and I have been delighted with the effort being put in by every player. This victory is purely due to the players’ determination,” he said.
Team physiotherapist Chitrala Sudhaker, who has been working hard with Javed to improve the players’ fitness, was a happy man. “The improved fitness could be seen on the field and it was lovely to see them defend a small total through tight bowling and top-class fielding.”
David East, the Chief Executive of the Emirates Cricket Board, said: “It is a huge achievement and now we will set our eyes on qualifying for the 50-over World Cup in the qualifiers in New Zealand later this year.”