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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

From Nepal to Dubai, UAE captain Rohan Mustafa wins T20 titles in two countries in two days

National team skipper was awarded a motorbike for his man-of-the-match display in Nepal before returning to win the inaugural UAE Cricket Leagues Men’s T20

Rohan Mustafa, centre, led Sharjah to victory in the UAE Cricket Leagues Men's T20 final against Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Rohan Mustafa, centre, led Sharjah to victory in the UAE Cricket Leagues Men's T20 final against Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Rohan Mustafa completed a double of playing in Twenty20 finals in two different countries in the space of two days – and won both.

The UAE captain was the man of the match in the final of the Dhangadhi Premier League in western Nepal on Friday.

After helping Dhangadhi Team Chauraha to that title, he had to work out what to do with the motorbike he won for his excellence, then get back to Dubai asap.

He boarded a flight on Saturday morning, giving himself enough time to get to Dubai International Stadium for the evening final of the first UAE Cricket Leagues Men’s T20.

At one point, he might have been questioning whether his rush across Asia was worth it. He suffered an ankle injury in taking a fine early catch, and was forced off the field, but he returned soon after to play a match-winning hand for Sharjah.

He proceeded to take 1-20 off four thrifty overs with the ball, then scored 42 as Sharjah beat Dubai to become the new competition’s first winners.

“It is a great boost for cricket in Sharjah, as well as for UAE cricket,” Mustafa said, after Sharjah’s eight-wicket win.

“This series is a great opportunity for players representing their councils, to play and perform through this type of tournament and to be seen by UAE scouts and selectors.”

Sharjah had lost their pool match to Dubai two nights earlier. They were comfortable winners in the final, though, after the new-ball excellence of Mohammed Naveed – who had deputised as captain in Mustafa’s absence – and Saif Ullah.

They took two wickets apiece as Dubai were reduced to 11-4. Mohammed Qasim made 56, but a Dubai-side featuring a variety of the UAE national team in its ranks could manage just 117-9 from their 20 overs.

Wicket-keeper Abdul Shakoor, who made 58 not out, and Mustafa combined to take Sharjah to a win with two overs to spare.

The four-team event was the first in a series of new events initiated by the Emirates Cricket Board. Also including Ajman and Abu Dhabi, the leagues are designed to pit the leading players in the country against each other in structured competition.

The T20 event was being played ahead of the national team’s return to the 20-over format. They will play at a tournament in Kuwait next week that marks the start of the qualifying process for the World T20 in Australia in two years’ time.

“One of our main objectives through the Leagues is to see players who we have not had the chance to be seen, and to provide them with a platform to be scouted,” Zayed Abbas, an ECB board member, said.

Ahmed Raza, the captain of the defeated Dubai side, believes the new competition will benefit the game in the Emirates.

“We’re excited about this series, it tests players, puts them under pressure mentally and physically, and it will benefit UAE cricket’s future immensely,” Raza, the UAE spin bowler, said.