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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

T10 League: Mohammed Naveed loving life with Bengal Tigers

The UAE player relishing playing alongside players such as Sarfraz Ahmed, David Miller, and Darren Sammy in the inaugural tournament in Sharjah

The Bengal Tigers, in yellow and blue, in action in the T10 tournament in Sharjah. The UAE's Mohammed Naveed is enjoying being part of the team.  Francois Nel / Getty Images
The Bengal Tigers, in yellow and blue, in action in the T10 tournament in Sharjah. The UAE's Mohammed Naveed is enjoying being part of the team. Francois Nel / Getty Images

When he is not on international duty for the UAE, Mohammed Naveed is well used to spending Friday evenings playing knockabout 10-over matches with his mates.

Often, those games are on a street in Khor Fakkan, using a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape, and his mates have just come from the construction site, or the office of the local money exchange bureau.

This time around, it was at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, in front of a full house that included Bollywood stars, and even a WWE wrestler.

And his mates were were Sarfraz Ahmed, David Miller, and Darren Sammy, with the Bengal Tigers T10 franchise.

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Not for the first time, Naveed thrived with the best part of 14,500 people watching him live, as well scores more on the TV.

When he played with the UAE at the Asia Cup T20 in Bangladesh last year, Naveed clocked his fastest bowling speed – 147kph – when the crowd was its largest in Mirpur.

Back on the big stage for the first time since then, he revelled in being at the centre of attention again.

This time around it was with the bat, rather than his main suit as a pace bowler, that he starred.

In the last over of the first match on Day 2 of the T10 League, Naveed hit a six onto the tented roof of the North Stand, to settle a win over Punjabi Legends.

“I am always happy when the crowds come,” Naveed said.

“I have played six to seven years for the national team, played at the World Cup and the Asia Cup, so I don’t feel the pressure. I have confidence, 100 per cent, that I can perform well.

“I don’t think, ‘Oh, it’s T10, and Kieron Pollard is batting, or Darren Sammy, Carlos Brathwaite, David Miller’. I am confident.”

Naveed took one wicket for 18 runs from his two overs as Tigers kept the Punjabi Legends to 99 for six from their 10 overs.

“This is special cricket, the first time, we have played it,” Naveed said.

“The new ball is very difficult. It is a good challenge, and 110 or 120 runs is a very good score.

“All the batsmen are under pressure, they think they have to score 30 or 40 runs. And the bowlers, OK it is pressurised, especially because the Sharjah wicket is like cement.

“But the maximum that can happen is they hit you for six, not death.”

Naveed said his confidence has been bolstered by some of the stars involved with his franchise.

“It has been excellent, and our team has felt like a family,” he said.

“I have my ex-captain, Khurram Khan, with me, Sarfraz Ahmed [Bengal’s captain] and Waqar Younis [the coach] have been very supportive, and especially Darren Sammy.

“He has been pushing me and giving me confidence, saying, ‘Nedo, this is what you will do’. Then I want to do it.”

In the second match of the evening on Friday, Maratha Arabians spared themselves from an early elimination after beating Team Sri Lanka Cricket with a five wicket win over Team Sri Lanka Cricket off the last ball of the match.

Rilee Rossouw orchestrated the win, with 49 not out off 18 balls, as the Arabians reached 131 for five from their 10 overs.

“This is the way forward, I absolutely love this format,” Rossouw said.

“It is unbelievable, to chase down 125 in a T10 match is not something you could have thought of 20 years ago. I am so excited, I can’t wait for what is ahead for this format.”