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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 April 2019

Chirag Suri thrives as captain after unbeaten century leads UAE to win over Surrey

Leading the national team for the first time, the batsman scored 112 not out in the 66-run victory over the English county champions in Dubai

Chirag Suri raises his bat after reaching his century for the UAE against Surrey. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Chirag Suri raises his bat after reaching his century for the UAE against Surrey. Chris Whiteoak / The National

When Chirag Suri arrived at the ICC Academy in Dubai for the UAE’s fixture against Surrey, he knew he needed a score to break the barren run he had been on.

By the end of the day, he had overseen a comfortable win over England’s champion county side in his first game as captain of the national team, having himself carried his bat for a century.

And he got a pat on the back and a word of praise from Morne Morkel, the great South African fast bowler, to boot.

“Morne is a great friend from T10, when he was on the same team [Bengal Tigers] as me,” Suri said of the Surrey overseas player, who was not part of the XI playing against UAE.

“He seemed happy to see me. He is a lovely guy, always encouraging the younger guys. He is a gentleman and a great cricketer, so any acknowledgement from him feels great.

“He was happy I got runs, and said, ‘Well done, skip’. It was the first time I was leading, I wanted to prove that I am worthy of this responsibility, and I was happy it all came together.”

With the UAE resting a number of senior players for the fixture, Suri was told he would be captain by Dougie Brown, the coach, on the morning of the game.

Given that he is the youngest player in the side, and has been on a meagre run that had seen him score 18 runs in his past four innings in UAE colours, he might have been forgiven for being apprehensive.

He responded in classy fashion, though, batting through the inning for 112 not out, sharing in a substantial opening partnership with fellow centurion Ashfaq Ahmed, as the UAE racked up 272-2.

Despite Ryan Patel’s innings of 79, the county side fell 66 short, as they were bowled out for 209 in 45 overs.

“It is a great privilege to be captain of such a talented side,” said Suri, who tripped and fell when turning for a second run on 99, before recovering his ground, then hitting the next ball down the ground to get to his ton.

“The way the coach showed faith in me, I’d like to thank him, and the senior players as well. It is difficult when a new captain comes in, but they were absolutely amazing.”

Surrey might have been without a number of their stars, with internationals like Morkel, Ben Foakes, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Mark Stoneman and Gareth Batty all watching on from beyond the boundary.

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Such are the formidable resources of the London club, though, they still had the likes of Rikki Clarke, Scott Borthwick and Jade Dernbach, all with international experience, in their XI.

The UAE, for their part, were also less than at full-strength, with the senior trio of Mohammed Naveed, Rohan Mustafa and Ahmed Raza all rested, and Rameez Shahzad injured.

While the centuries for Suri and Ashfaq were a significant morale-boost ahead of the challenges that follow, so to was the sparkling form with the ball of Qadeer Ahmed.

The UAE seamer took 4-28 in his 10 overs, included in which were four maidens.

“Chirag is a very good buddy of mine, off the field also, and he gave me a lot of confidence,” Qadeer said. “He knows what situation I have going on, and that I have to perform well. He showed trust in me, said, ‘Do whatever you want’.

“He was very positive. I bowled three maiden overs, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, if you want to go for the wickets, don’t worry about the runs, we can change the line’. He backed me a lot.”

Updated: March 20, 2019 07:08 PM

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