UAE cap­tain Raza still up­beat de­spite post­pone­ment of pos­si­ble home Asia Cup

The National - News - - SPORT - PAUL RADLEY

The UAE’s play­ers have been de­nied the chance of play­ing in a home Asia Cup this year af­ter it was con­firmed the tour­na­ment has been post­poned due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE cap­tain, re­mains up­beat de­spite his side been de­nied a shot at play­ing in the Asia Cup this year.

The com­pe­ti­tion, which was due to be played this com­ing Septem­ber, has been post­poned due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. It will be de­layed for at least a year, with Sri Lanka now pen­cilled in to host the resched­uled event next year.

UAE had been well placed to make it to the com­pe­ti­tion, where they would have been pit­ted into com­pe­ti­tion with the su­per­stars of In­dia, Pak­istan,

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanista­n.

They were the top-ranked side in a four team even sched­uled to be played in Malaysia next month. The win­ners would have ad­vanced to the main event. Raza pointed out that his side still had much to do to qual­ify – they fell short the last time the event was played, in 2018 – and sug­gested the right de­ci­sion had been made to sus­pend the com­pe­ti­tion.

“There had been ru­mours around which we had heard, but we were train­ing as if it was go­ing ahead as planned,” Raza said. “I was in the gym when I found out, so I smashed a few more weights to get the frus­tra­tion out.

“But of course, there was not a guar­an­teed spot for us, any­way. We still had to play at the qual­i­fier to make it to the main event. Look­ing at it pos­i­tively, we still have more time to pre­pare to try and do that, as it is post­poned, not can­celled.

“If it had been hap­pen­ing now, it would have had to hap­pen be­hind closed doors. Play­ing matches against In­dia, Pak­istan or Sri Lanka, you don’t want to be be­hind closed doors.

“Nor­mally, we play with no crowds, so if you get the op­por­tu­nity to play in Asia Cup you want packed houses.”

It was sched­uled to be played this Septem­ber, as a pre­cur­sor to the T20 World Cup.

That com­pe­ti­tion, set for Aus­tralia in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, also seems cer­tain to be post­poned for a year, with con­fir­ma­tion likely to come this month.

UAE had ini­tially ap­peared to be the most likely host of the Asia Cup. The Pak­istan Cricket Board had host­ing rights for the event, but with In­dia un­will­ing to tour there, would likely have switched the com­pe­ti­tion to the Emi­rates – as was the case in 2018.

Pak­istan have swapped stag­ing rights with Sri Lanka, though, un­der the be­lief the is­land na­tion would have been bet­ter equipped to go ahead given the pre­vail­ing health sit­u­a­tion. As such, UAE could fea­si­bly stage the com­pe­ti­tion a year later.

Raza said the idea of play­ing against the con­ti­nent’s elite again, as they did in Bangladesh in 2016, is the side’s main mo­ti­va­tion, rather than the prospect of do­ing so on home soil.

“Play­ing in front of your fam­ily and friends would have been a dif­fer­ent ball game al­to­gether – as­sum­ing that we would have qual­i­fied,” Raza said.“But if you are play­ing In­dia or Pak­istan, it doesn’t mat­ter which part of the world you are from, you are go­ing to get big crowds.”

Chris Whi­teoak / The Na­tional

UAE cap­tain Ahmed Raza

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