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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

UAE's Ahmed Raza and Imran Haider relish chance to face Australian batsmen in T20 match

Both spinners trained with Australian team and hope to get opportunity to play against them in T20 match setting in Abu Dhabi on Monday

Spinner Ahmed Raza, centre, and captain Rohan Mustafa, left, will likely be seen in action against Australia. Courtesy of Johan Jooste
Spinner Ahmed Raza, centre, and captain Rohan Mustafa, left, will likely be seen in action against Australia. Courtesy of Johan Jooste

Two bowlers who helped Australia prepare for their Test series against Pakistan are relishing the chance of playing against them in a Twenty20 international next week.

Imran Haider and Ahmed Raza were integrated in Australia's training sessions earlier this month, as they prepared for the spin-bowling threat of the Pakistanis.

The duo spent 12 days with the tourists in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both bowling at them in practice, and sharing their knowledge of the local playing conditions.

Each is now hoping to be part of the UAE XI when they play Australia in a T20I at Abu Dhabi Cricket Oval 1, which is adjacent to the main Zayed Cricket Stadium, on Monday.

“It has been great spending time with the Aussies,” said Haider, whose leg-spin bowling was employed to help Australia combat the threat of Yasir Shah in the Tests.

“We trained together for the red-ball cricket. Now, playing against them in T20 would be a great opportunity of us as a team to show how good we are.

“Obviously, they are one of the best T20 sides in the world. We also train very hard, like they do. We always used to say our trainer and coaches that it's like Australian training.

“We will try to give best in every department to show we are a good side.”

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Five of Australia’s Test side are also involved in their T20 set-up – Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle, who has been called up as cover for Starc.

Raza, the Sharjah-born left-arm spinner, says their new familiarity with the Australians could be a mixed blessing.

“They gave us great feedback, showed us a lot of respect and it was a really nice two weeks working with them,” Raza said.

“There are not many times we get the opportunity to work with a Test team. They welcomed us with open arms.

“The surprise element is one of the things Associate teams like us have in our favour when we play against the bigger teams, because they don’t play against you very often.

“Some of the Australian players have seen me and Imran. This is a T20I, so they won’t be treating it as a walk in the park. It is about stats.

“On the flipside of that, we have been bowling to them, so we know quite a lot as well. Hopefully there are some areas we can target. It should be a good day for UAE cricket.”

UAE bowler Imran Haider trained with the Australian cricket team. Chris Whiteoak / The National
UAE bowler Imran Haider trained with the Australian cricket team. Chris Whiteoak / The National

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The UAE team will also play a T20 match against New Zealand before they face Pakistan, but that match will not have official status.

Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said the players are happy for the opportunity to test themselves against the game’s leading players.

“Playing against a Full Member side, whether it is in a warm-up match or a full international, it is exciting,” Brown said.

“This is going to be a different challenge. They have some world-class players.

"These guys are going into a series and they are going to be hoping they put in good performances to make sure their names are ahead of their teammates on that teamsheet when they play against Pakistan.

“We know they are going to be competitive, irrespective of the nature of the game. It is fantastic for us.”