While the batsmen Mohammed Iqbal and Amjad Javed have hogged the attention at the start of the ACC Twenty20 via their feats of monstrous hits, the UAE have also been able to quietly toast the emergence of a new seam-bowling talent. Moiz Shahid has enjoyed a remarkable rise in the game over the past two months. So far off the radar was he back then, the Sharjah youngster was not even part of the original extended squad of 24 probables named ahead of the tournament.
However, an impressive return during Ramadan earned him a recommendation to the selectors, and he sealed his place via a trial game against Abu Dhabi Gymkhana. He will lead the attack when the UAE go in search of their fourth successive victory against China at Zayed Stadium this morning, buoyed by figures of two wickets for three runs from three overs last time out. The UAE coach, Colin Wells, is happy with his new find.
He said of the left-arm pace bowler: "He swings it back to the right-hander, and provides good variation for the squad. He is a very good listener and a quick learner." Hefty wins against inferior opposition may not provide much of a gauge of the national team's form as the tournament reaches the business end, but their confidence will have been boosted by their 27-run triumph over Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Hong Kong are the holders of the 50-over version of the Trophy, having beaten the Emirates in the final in Kuala Lumpur last summer. Their recent form has been strong, too. Only last month, they beat an England side which included the likes of Chris Read and Graham Napier on their way to reaching the final of the Hong Kong Sixes. Wells added: "I hadn't seen Hong Kong before but they came with a bit of a reputation.
"We didn't play as well or score as many runs as we would have liked, so we put the bowlers and fielders under pressure. "They responded very well. We needed to be tested and, although the tests came of our faults, it may be that another time a side could play very well and could bowl us out rather than we get ourselves out." Today's opposition, China, are cricketing novices who have struggled to adapt after accepting an invitation to play at this level for the first time.
And Wells, the former England one-day player, is expecting his side to send out another indication of their title credentials. "We are looking to inflict a heavy defeat upon them and, with all due respect to the other teams in the competition, it appears that ourselves and Afghanistan will be seeded favourites at the moment," added the coach. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org UAE v China, 10am, Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi