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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

UAE expect to 'compete' at Indoor Cricket World Cup after warm-up win over New Zealand

National team overcome one of the title favourites and a team that includes former Test cricketer Jesse Ryder.

Saqib Nazir, left, will lead the UAE as captain during the Indoor Cricket World Cup. Christopher Pike / The National
Saqib Nazir, left, will lead the UAE as captain during the Indoor Cricket World Cup. Christopher Pike / The National

Saqib Nazir, the UAE captain, says the national team now know they can compete with the best at the Indoor Cricket World Cup, after beating New Zealand in their first warm up match.

The win against a New Zealand squad containing the most high-profile player in the competition, Jesse Ryder, was a timely morale boost ahead of Saturday’s tournament opener against the same opposition.

The national team, who are the hosts of a competition being staged at Insportz, Dubai, are strangers to international competition, and were unsure what to expect.

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“We have been telling the boys about the calibre of the teams we are competing against, and they were not sure of how we would fare against professional sides like New Zealand and Australia,” Nazir said.

“For us it is totally different here, we work all day and then we come and play cricket in the evening.

“Frankly speaking, before the practice game we gave ourselves a 50-50 chance of winning. But after our victory against New Zealand, we know where we stand, and we think we can compete, and we want to compete.

“We have been training for a month now. We are not full-time professionals, but with the World Cup being hosted here the Emirates Cricket Board has given us a huge opportunity and we want to do our best.”

Despite the loss, the New Zealanders are likely to still harbour title aspirations, having reached the final against Australia at the last World Cup.

For Ryder, it is a return to the format of the game he first played, before going on to become a Test cricketer.

“I have been playing indoor cricket since I was 14, then I started playing professionally so I took seven years off,” Ryder said.

“This is my first year back into it, so it is nice to make the New Zealand team, over here in Dubai.

“It is a great little set up here with nice new courts and new pitches so it will be a bit of a challenge I think for most teams.”