Shi­raz do­ing best to catch UAE se­lec­tors’ eye

The National - News - - SPORT | GOLF - Paul Radley

The Abu Dhabi T10 might be a cheery dis­trac­tion from the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by UAE cricket at present. But the lo­cal play­ers in­volved would be for­given for hav­ing at least some of their thoughts on in­ter­na­tional duty.

The na­tional team as­sem­ble again when this com­pe­ti­tion is fin­ished, for a one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries in­volv­ing Scot­land and United States.

The fact that six play­ers are cur­rently ei­ther sus­pended or ab­sent from duty pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion means there are spa­ces up for grabs in the na­tional team.

The T10 has al­lowed the play­ers to ban­ish the mem­o­ries of their fail­ure to make it to next year’s T20 World Cup, via the re­cent Qual­i­fier. De­spite a rule that states each side must field at least one UAE-qual­i­fied player in their start­ing XI in the T10, op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­press have re­mained lim­ited.

But Ahmed Raza, Ro­han Mustafa, Sul­tan Ahmed, and Mo­hammed Us­man – all es­tab­lished fig­ures in the UAE team

– have had their mo­ments in the spot­light.

Ju­naid Sid­dique took a wicket with his third ball of the com­pe­ti­tion be­fore his North­ern War­riors side slipped to a six-run loss to Bangla Tigers yes­ter­day.

One un­capped player, too, has caught the eye. Shi­raz Ahmed is a left-arm pace-bowler who was lit­tle known be­fore this tour­na­ment. But he has ap­peared con­fi­dent when handed the ball by Dwayne Bravo, his Maratha Ara­bi­ans cap­tain.

In his sec­ond match, the 28-year-old from Mul­tan in Pak­istan went for just 14 in his two overs to help bowl the Ara­bi­ans to a win over Qa­lan­dars.

“I am very happy that I am play­ing for such a good team as Maratha Ara­bi­ans with so many ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers around me,” Shi­raz said. “I like play­ing un­der pres­sure, and I have good play­ers around me sup­port­ing me so I have not been ner­vous.”

Shi­raz’s per­for­mances should not have gone un­no­ticed. UAE se­lec­tors Khur­ram Khan and Mo­hammed Tauqir are both serv­ing coach­ing roles in the tour­na­ment, while the UAE coach Dougie Brown, is as­sist­ing Team Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE cap­tain, said se­lec­tors are al­ready aware of the pace-bowler’s mer­its.

“He has very good po­ten­tial and has been around the cir­cuit for a long time, but hasn’t played for UAE yet,” Raza said.

“He is a left-armer, and we don’t have that kind of va­ri­ety on our bowl­ing at­tack ... I think ev­ery­one who has been watch­ing him has been im­pressed.”

The en­counter be­tween Kar­nataka Tuskers and Maratha Ara­bi­ans was a washout, with the sides shar­ing a point apiece.

In the fi­nal match of the evening, Dec­can Gla­di­a­tors and Team Abu Dhabi shook hands and took a point away af­ter a far­ci­cal end.

The Gla­di­a­tors had ap­peared well placed on 25-1 in pur­suit of the 119 they needed to beat the last-placed side, when rain in­ter­rupted the game 2.2 overs into their chase.

The rain did re­lent, and the cov­ers were re­moved with plenty of time to reach the five overs that were needed to bring about a re­sult. But a lengthy de­lay while play­ers and of­fi­cials de­bated what the re­vised tar­get was meant time elapsed, and a no re­sult was de­clared.

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