DUBAI // Saqib Ali, the former captain, completed his redemption as a UAE player by guiding his side to the brink of qualifying for the World Twenty20. The feisty New Medical Centre batsman hails from Multan, which is known as the city of saints among Pakistanis. He is often anything but saintly on a cricket field. Saqib was banned from all competitive cricket for a year last June after losing his temper in a domestic match and throwing a bail at one of the umpires.
His suspension was halved after he expressed repentance, and he was allowed to return in time for the UAE's tour of Namibia in December. "He is a fierce competitor, it is always good to have him in your side," said Colin Wells, the UAE coach. "He is competitive with the ball, he fields like a tiger, and is a very good batsman, so I am very pleased to have him back." Ali's class with the bat has never been in question, as he proved in racking up 161 runs - the best of any player outside of the two finalists - as the UAE reached the Super Four stage of the World Twenty20 qualifier.
The UAE's players were hugely disappointed by the lack of support for them on home soil, during the five-day competition. More than 6,000 Afghans were present for the final, while Ireland and the Netherlands had more travelling support than the host nation could muster. "It is a little disappointing, but I don't think it really effected the boys," added Wells. "It would have been nice to have seen some people making a bit of noise." firstname.lastname@example.org