Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 29 May 2020

UAE bowler Sultan Ahmed hopes to join list of greats when lockdown is lifted

Spinner is on the brink of qualifying as one of the world's top Twenty20 bowlers

If the adage is true that you are only as good as your last game, some of the UAE’s cricketers must be glad of the extended break they are having.

Take Sultan Ahmed, for instance. In the last game he played, he took four wickets for nine runs to bowl the national team to a trophy in the first phase of qualifying for the Asia Cup.

That match in Muscat is the best part of three months ago now, and it might turn out to have been a futile exercise, anyway.

It feels highly unlikely given the current situation that the next leg of qualifying – a four-team tournament scheduled for August in Malaysia – will go ahead, or even the main event in September.

Rather than basking in the glow of that success last time out, Sultan and his colleagues have grown as frustrated by everyone else by the absence of cricket from their lives.

Sultan himself has an individual landmark in his sights. The left-arm spinner has an economy rate of 5.91 in the 22 Twenty20 internationals he has played so far.

That would have put him in second place in the all-time list of thriftiest bowlers in the format, behind just Daniel Vettori, and ahead of Imad Wasim, Sunil Narine, and everyone else who has played the game.

To be considered for that list, he needs to have bowled a minimum of 500 deliveries.

He has sent down 432 so far, which is another reason for him being impatient about returning to the bowling crease.

“I'm working very hard to give my best performances, and it would be a proud moment for me to become a No 1 bowler in any format of cricket,” Sultan said. “I hope all cricket lovers will pray for my success.”

While that tournament-winning effort in Muscat in February might have been in a low-key competition, Sultan has proved a good fit for bigger stages, too.

He was a reliable performer in the Abu Dhabi T10 at the end of 2019 for Qalandars.

He hopes his performances with the ball in that competition might persuade the Lahore-based franchise to consider him for their Pakistan Super League side in the future, too.

I'm working very hard to give my best performances, and it would be a proud moment for me to become a No 1 bowler in any format of cricket

“I'm grateful to Almighty Allah for this particular performance,” he said.

“Inshallah, you will soon watch me not only in PSL but also in other international leagues.”

The 30-year-old spinner left Pakistan to move to UAE in 2013, having initially harboured the dream of playing for the country of his birth in international cricket.

“Why not? Everyone wants to represent his country, but I feel proud to be a UAE national player,” he said.

“It is my second homeland. When I came to UAE, it was with the intention only to play cricket.

"I had played departmental cricket in Pakistan and after arriving in UAE, I was confident I could play for the national team.”

Since debuting in the T20 side in 2017, Sultan has been among the most consistent performers in a side that has faced its share of troubles.

He is a close friend of two players who were banned for corruption last year, Shaiman Anwar and Mohammed Naveed, the former captain who deems Sultan “like a brother to me”.

“When you play in a team, it is necessary to play and live like a unit,” Sultan said.

“I always have good relationships with my teammates. I thank Allah that I have a good nature and a sense of humour.

“I don't know what happened to Naveed. We spent good times together.

“Every person, especially when you are a leading personality, you have to face many kinds of negative things.

“But I think it makes you more positive in how you do things. We should not worry at all. It’s part of life.”

Updated: May 14, 2020 08:09 AM

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