Suri's maiden hundred for senior side, coupled with Ahmed Raza's six-wicket haul, help Emirates to 215-run win over Singapore
Asia Cup Qualifier: UAE's Chirag Suri credits coaching experience for scoring match-winning century
Chirag Suri may be a mere 23 years old, and trying to make his way in international cricket, but he says the experience of coaching young players himself is helping transform his game.
The opener scored his first century for the senior UAE team on Wednesday, to set the platform for a resounding win over Singapore in the opening match of the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia.
Suri made 111 as the national team amassed 312-9 from their 50 overs, before Ahmed Raza took six wickets to rout the opposition for just 97.
It was the latest landmark innings by a player who has established himself in all three formats for the national team this year.
When he has not been training and playing, he has undertaken an initiative alongside former UAE captain Khurram Khan, Front Foot Sports, where he coaches children. He says it has helped improve his own game.
“I’ve tried to be more relaxed at the crease, and play more percentage cricket,” Suri said after collecting the man-of-the-match award against Singapore.
“I’ve focused on my basics, especially because I’m coaching some kids now, which helps my batting too. Cricket is about sticking to the basics. That is what I tell them and tell myself.”
Suri’s emergence since his pivotal, match-winning innings against the Netherlands in the World Cup Qualifier in March has meant he has displaced Rohan Mustafa, the captain, at the top of the order.
He and Ashfaq Ahmed, who made 64, put on 105 for the first wicket against Singapore. Suri credits the support of Mustafa, as well as coach Dougie Brown, for his upturn in form.
“Our game plan revolves around setting platforms, initially not losing wickets and keeping wickets in hand for the end,” Suri said.
“Luckily I was able to do that today. I’ve been very well supported by my captain and coach, they have really pushed me and showed faith in me, and I felt confident going on.”
After Suri and Ashfaq starred at the top of the order, Shaiman Anwar blazed 75 from 62 balls.
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The national team had headed to Malaysia with a battery of spin bowlers, expecting the pitches to be conducive to turn.
They saw an immediate return on that theory as Raza took 6-20 with his left-arm spin, having taken the new ball.
“The wickets over here are helpful and it is nice to bowl with a new, hard ball,” Raza said. “In white-ball cricket my role over the years has been to stop the runs, so it was nice to be on the other side of it.
“It is a great confidence booster to start the tournament like this. There are a few big games coming up, so we can’t be looking too far ahead.
“Chirag was outstanding. It was a very difficult wicket and he made it look easy.”
Two sides that the UAE might have considered as their main rivals for the qualification berth started their campaign with losses. Hong Kong were shocked by hosts Malaysia, while Nepal, who the UAE play next on Thursday, were beaten by Oman.
The winners of the even in Kuala Lumpur qualify for the Asia Cup, which starts in Dubai on September 15 when Bangladesh play Sri Lanka in Dubai.