UAE will host U19 World Cup in February so this week's Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U19 Elite Cup will serve as a valuable tune-up and should answer some questions about the UAE side, writes Amith Passela.
Aaqib Javed's UAE U19 cricket crew to get sneak preview in Malaysia
Three players from the UAE team arrived late to the final game before their departure to Malaysia to take part in the ACC Under 19 Elite Cup.
They explained to Aaqib Javed, the coach, that they had to travel from Dubai for the 5pm start of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) Greens' match against Adgas in the Al Hamad Division 1 tournament at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
This is one of the issues that Javed, the former Pakistan quick bowler, has had to face as the coach of a national team made up of amateur cricketers.
"It was the same with the senior national team players," Aaqib said. "They either said they were held up at work or came up with the excuse of being too tired to train after work.
"I wanted to create the environment where the players can compete and got those who were available and willing to come for training. Now I have a bigger pool to choose from.
"When I first took charge, over a year ago, I had about 20 players and now I can select from around 50. No one is guaranteed a place in the national team; now they need to fight for their places."
The UAE are preparing to host the U19 World Cup in February next year and Aaqib has had very little time to work with a prospective squad for the event.
Some of them will be in action when they play Afghanistan in today's Asian Cricket Council U19 Elite Cup opener in Malaysia.
"I wish I had more time than the four training days we have had before this tour," Aaqib said. "We started short-listing the players five months ago and they have been playing for the ECB Greens in the domestic matches. And apart from the few training sessions we have had during this period, I believe they train at their academies and schools.
"However, this tournament is a good start and when we get back we will have a full schedule drawn up until the World Cup with those who couldn't make in to this tour because of the school examinations."
The winner of the ACC Elite Cup will qualify for the World Cup. If the UAE, already qualified as hosts, win then the runner-up will join the 16-team championship, which involves all Test playing nations and qualifiers from the ICC's associates and affiliate members across the continents.
Afghanistan and Hong Kong, the UAE's first two opponents, began their campaigns with resounding victories yesterday.
Shahidullah (86) and Abdur Mangal (56) shared a 170-run partnership for the first wicket to lead Afghanistan to a 10-wicket win over Saudi Arabia at the Selangor Turf Club grounds.
Mohammed Ghazanfar returned with excellent figures of 9-0-14-8 to dismiss Thailand for 101 in reply to Hong Kong's 250 for five at the Kelab Aman grounds.
UAE fixtures at Asian Cricket Council (ACC) U19 Elite Cup
Saturday UAE v Afghanistan
Sunday UAE v Hong Kong
Tuesday UAE v Thailand
Wednesday UAE v Saudi Arabia
May 11 Consolation and final
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