x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Ali lays out the stakes for UAE

The UAE all-rounder says they will not take Bermuda lightly in their July quest for the victory they need to reach the ICC Intercontinental Shield final.

Saqib Ali and the UAE cricket team are traveling to Bermuda in July.
Saqib Ali and the UAE cricket team are traveling to Bermuda in July.

ABU DHABI // Saqib Ali, the UAE all-rounder, says he and his teammates will not take tiny Bermuda lightly in their quest for the victory they need to give them a strong chance of reaching the ICC Intercontinental Shield final. They travel to Bermuda for the final group match from July 5 to 8, and the UAE yesterday announced their squad for the match.

Ali last night emphasised what was at stake for his team. "We need to win this game outright to stand a chance of reaching the final, after we dropped first-innings points against Uganda in our home game," said the batsman. Uganda top the four-team group with Namibia in second place, the UAE third and Bermuda last, having lost both their games. With Uganda and Namibia meeting in the final match of the group, a win for the UAE would put them in a strong position to reach November's final because the top two could not score maximum points.

"Going by the results, Bermuda seems to be the weakest team, but we can't take anything for granted," Ali said. "We are touring Bermuda for the first time and we don't know what to expect and what kind of pitches we would be playing. But I would like to think we have a pretty good chance to win this game outright, which in any case, would be our goal." As a senior player in the team led by Khurram Khan, Ali felt the 14-man squad has a good balance in all departments of the game.

"The batting should come good and if that clicks we have the bowling to get the opposition on the dock," he said. "This team has been playing for a while and have a good understanding of each other to play an all-round game." Ali has been in fine form with the bat, scoring 141 not out against Bhutan and 93 not out against Afghanistan in Kuwait last month. Tahir Butt, the fast bowler; Saqib Shah, his Abu Dhabi Gymkhana teammate; and Swapnil Patil from Dubai are new to the squad.

"I am thrilled to be called up for the tour," Butt said."Being selected for a national team is the biggest achievement for me so far, and I am really looking forward to doing well, if I get the opportunity to play." @Email:apassela@thenational.ae