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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Faizan Asif unavailable for UAE cricket due to family and job commitments despite Bukhatir League exploits

Opening batsman cool on talks of national comeback after powering Alubond Tigers to victory over star-studded Phoneix Medicine

Faizan Asif last played in a UAE shirt nearly three years ago. Pawan Singh / The National
Faizan Asif last played in a UAE shirt nearly three years ago. Pawan Singh / The National

Former UAE opener Faizan Asif insists he remains unavailable for the national team despite dominating the country’s leading competition.

The left-handed opener hit a sparkling hundred to win a second successive Bukhatir League title for Alubond Tigers at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.

The innings was remarkable both for its power – a number of balls were lost as he hit them out of the stadium – as well as the quality of the bowling attack it came against.

Phoenix Medicine, the opposition, have a variety of leading national team players in their ranks. The UAE’s strong recent form on the international stage has been based on the excellence of the likes of Rohan Mustafa, Amir Hayat, and Ahmed Raza with the ball.

And yet none of them had an answer to Faizan’s belligerence. His 118 underpinned a comfortable run-chase as Alubond won by five wickets to claim domestic cricket’s oldest and most valued prize for the second season in a row.

Faizan played the last of six Twenty20 internationals for the UAE three years ago. His time with the national team was chiefly memorable for him hitting his second ball in international cricket for a straight six, in front of the TV cameras against Netherlands at the 2012 World T20 in Bangladesh.

However, he says he is unable to commit to trying to win his place back in the side due to his job at Emirates Islamic Bank.

“I cannot due to work and family commitments,” Faizan said. “I am just playing domestic matches. I would really love to do that [represent the national team], but due to my office commitments, I cannot.

“It is really difficult to go from the office directly to Sports City for practice, as I can’t leave my job at 4pm. There are more responsibilities on me. My family are here, my kids are here. I need to give time to them, which is why I quit.

“At that time [when he did play for UAE] it was very difficult but I managed somehow, but due to the market situation in the banking sector I cannot leave my job.”

Phoenix Medicines lost despite having the likes of Ahmed Raza, bat in hand, and Rohan Mustafa in their ranks. Antonie Robertson / The National
Phoenix Medicines lost despite having the likes of Ahmed Raza, bat in hand, and Rohan Mustafa in their ranks. Antonie Robertson / The National

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Faizan is not the only Asif to have caught the eye on the cricket fields of the Emirates this year.

Older brother Umaid was one of the break-out stars of the 2018 Pakistan Super League, where he excelled with Peshawar Zalmi, the eventual runners-up.

The all-rounder also used to feature regularly in UAE domestic competitions, chiefly with the now-defunct Ibsons team.

While Faizan realises his own international career is stalled, he believes his brother might yet be able to earn a call up to the Pakistan side.

“For the past three or four years he has been working very hard,” Faizan said. “The Pakistan coaches were keen to take him in the team, but somehow he could not manage it because of injury.

“He has been performing continuously for the past two or three years. Last year his name was there [in the PSL draft] but nobody picked him.

“This time he played and performed very well. Of course, I am proud of him. Inshallah he will play for Pakistan.”

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