'Exciting, brave, fearless': UAE Under 19 cricket team lay down marker in Asia's Western Region
Coach Dom Telo genuinely excited by what he sees ahead of Friday’s Asia Cup qualifying final against Kuwait
Given the manner in which the UAE have swept all before them in reaching Friday’s Under 19 Asia Cup qualifying final, it is difficult to assess the merits of the national team.
Despite the rise in temperatures over the past week, the national team have not broken sweat in any of their four wins in the competition to date.
Wins by nine wickets over Bahrain and 10 against Qatar, then 355 runs against Iran and 173 against Saudi Arabia, speak of a side that really belong in a different weight class to their opposition.
During that run of matches, there have been two centurions – Ashwanth Valthapa and Vritiya Aravind – while Osama Hassan was only three runs short of doing the same against Iran.
With the ball, captain Aryan Lakra has taken six wickets twice, while Rishab Mukherjee took 5-8 against Iran.
How to evaluate their efforts, then, given the excess? According to coach Dom Telo, this is a side to be optimistic about, no matter the quality of the opponents.
“Taking the opposition aside, I think we as a team have come a long way,” Telo said, ahead of Friday’s final against Kuwait at the Dubai International Stadium.
“We set our standards really high, and no matter who you are playing against, you need to stick to those standards.
“I honestly think you can start getting excited about this young group of players. The way they go about their cricket is exciting.
“It is a brave, fearless, yet calculated, brand of cricket that we are trying to play with them.”
The UAE will clinch a place at the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka later this year if they beat Kuwait.
Telo is hopeful they are equipped to thrive not just there, but for various future challenges.
“A lot of these guys have been involved with this set up for the past two years at least, some even longer,” Telo said.
“Their learning is finally starting to kick in now. Hopefully they can take this forward into the World Cup, and one step further than that, to senior men’s level eventually.
“That is the goal. They are an exciting group of cricketers.”
The semi-final win over Qatar was particularly crushing, by 10 wickets, with 277 balls to spare.
Lakra, who took 6-9 as Qatar were bowled out for 48, said the rush to victory was indicative of a side in good order at present.
“It wasn’t a specific message, it was just about the way we are playing our cricket at the moment,” Lakra said.
“Everyone is doing well. I can give the ball to anyone and they are getting wickets. If anyone opens the batting, they get runs.
“In this tournament so far, we have had quite a few different combinations opening the batting, and they have all been getting runs.
“The team is in a really good spot, everyone has been doing what they are supposed to do, and we are following our basics.”
Video footage provided by Chris Whiteoak.
Updated: May 2, 2019 11:51 AM