Saqib Ali denies that being made the UAE captain had a negative impact on his batting, and he intends to emphasise his worth to the national team in Malaysia this week. The New Medical Centre batsman was removed as skipper of the Emirates following the defeats to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup at the end of last month. The Emirates Cricket Board selectors opted instead to hand the reins back to Khurram Khan, the 37-year-old all-rounder, for his third stint in charge, ahead of the ACC Trophy.
The UAE coach Vasbert Drakes was quick to point out the side had played well under Saqib's leadership, but he thought the burden of captaincy was showing in his batting. Saqib, the former Pakistan Under 19 batsman, made modest scores of 10 against Bangladesh and 19 against the eventual Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka in Lahore. His replacement, Khurram, added that he hoped the change would "release the pressure" on one of his best batsmen, ahead of their ACC Trophy defence this week.
However, Saqib feels his two low scores at the Asia Cup reflected the standard of opposition rather than the side-effects of captaincy. He was already in harness when he played one of the finest innings ever by a UAE batsman, hitting 195 out of a total of 306 against Ireland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup last year. "It only takes a couple of balls to get back into form and to get the momentum back. I am looking forward to doing that in this competition."
The UAE take on neighbours Saudi Arabia at the Royal Military College in Kuala Lumpur today. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org