SHARJAH // Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, has refuted the idea that he tried to hide some cards by way of the team he selected for the Intercontinental Cup against Ireland last week.
The two sides played out an attritional draw at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, where they will meet in two potentially crucial World Cup qualifiers, starting today.
The UAE took just seven wickets for the concession of 587 runs in that game, yet their bowling attack is likely to look wholly different today.
Nasir Aziz and Shadeep Silva, two spin-bowlers, will be restored to the line-up, while one or both of the seam-bowlers Kamran Shahzad and Manjula Guruge may also come in.
Ireland were deprived batting practice against any of them in their glorified net last week, but Aaqib says he was more concerned about granting international experience to a wider group rather than hiding any assets.
"We have different plans for different games, but my priority is to expand the group," said the former Pakistan seam-bowler.
"When I came last year there was a maximum of 18 to 20 players" of an international standard.
"Now we have expanded that to 40, given opportunities to some to play four days, some to play 50 overs, T20. I can pick three teams at the moment. These players feel proud when they are representing UAE."
The player pool will be extended even further when the national team go to play in the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Nepal next week.
The tour party to Kathmandu probably has the youngest average age of any UAE squad to date, with the 24-year-old Ahmed Raza set to lead the side.
"We are trying to build up UAE cricket," Aaqib said. "If somebody is doing well we want to give them encouragement" by picking them for the national team, "but at the same time we don't want to lose our standards."
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