Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

When The Karate Kid was centre stage at the 2015 Cricket World Cup: memories of the UAE's thriller with Ireland

Krishnachandran Karate and Amjad Javed recall their standout moments from their clash with the Irish in Brisbane in February 2015

The UAE’s cricketers were probably already pining for their lost World Cup places long before the sides started unveiling their tournament jerseys this week.

But the kit launches have at least been a reminder of a small ritual the national team’s players were able to partake in four years ago, ahead of their trip to Australia and New Zealand.

It has all been far removed from the day those grey kits arrived, to little fanfare, at the ICC Academy before the UAE’s second appearance at a Word Cup.

For example, England’s powder blue homage to 1992 was launched on Tuesday at what appeared to be a rave.

Pakistan did theirs via a neat social media video, where each of the players entered the dressing room to see their shirts hanging on pegs.

Imam-ul-Haq lifts his up, and kisses the star emblem on the front. Sarfraz Ahmed, the captain, holds his shirt by the shoulders, wide eyed, looking at his name spelled out on the back.

That was not quite the experience felt by all the UAE’s players in 2015. For Krishnachandran Karate, who was playing his first major tournament for the UAE, seeing his name on the back of his shirt was most underwhelming.

The Keralite allrounder, who had managed to wangle two months off from his customer service job with Dnata to play at the World Cup, had asked for his first name to be printed on the back. Instead, he was given his mother’s surname which – it is fair to say – is quite distinctive.

“Before the jersey was launched, I was disappointed because I wanted my name to be ‘Krishna’, but it turned out to be ‘Karate’,” he said.

“I was a little disappointed, but I remember the coach [Aaqib Javed] telling me my name was one of the funkiest names in the 2015 World Cup, and that name would give me a lot of fame.”

He had been sceptical about going by Karate. The only attention he had wanted to bring on himself was via positive performances.

And, anyway, it was not a name he really went by. Most people knew him as Kris, Krishna, KK, or “Kichu”, which has been his nickname since childhood.

He struggled to fly under the radar at the World Cup, though. When he was out for a fourth-ball duck, against Ireland in Brisbane, Kevin O’Brien – his catcher – adopted the pose of “The Crane”, the finishing move of Daniel-san in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid.

Forget about the fact the UAE pushed Ireland all the way in a World Cup mini-classic, which ended in a two-wicket win to the Irish.

Or that Shaiman Anwar notched the first ever World Cup century for a UAE batsman. It was the O’Brien-Crane image which the local newspapers went with.

Krishnachandran Karate in action with the ball but his most memorable moment with the bat was against Ireland. Getty
Krishnachandran Karate in action with the ball but his most memorable moment was with the bat against Ireland. Getty

“When we played against South Africa, I remember in the dressing room I was with Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, and they were saying, ‘Ah, you’re the karate star?’,” Karate said.

“The Kevin O’Brien thing was great. The next day we were flying to Perth to play India. At the airport, I happened to notice that the newspaper was saying about the karate kick. That was a positive thing. I really enjoyed those moments.”

It is a weird sensation, but Karate is not the only one who recalls positive memories from what were actually tough times.

The UAE failed to register a win in the World Cup. In that game against Ireland, luck at one point conspired against them, but the victim of that looks back with no bitterness.

In the 11th over, Amjad Javed appeared to have bowled Ed Joyce, Ireland’s most experienced batsman.

Amjad Javed bats for the UAE against Ireland but it was with the ball that he had his most memorable moment in Brisbane. Getty 
Amjad Javed bats for the UAE against Ireland. His memorable moment involved almost dismissing Ed Joyce. Getty

The stumps lit up, the LED bail jumped – then landed straight back in its groove. Joyce went on to make 21 more runs, before Amjad finally did get his man.

“If we had taken that wicket at that time, they might have made 30 runs less,” Amjad said.

“That 30 runs could have been saved if the bails went off, and it would have been a different story at the end.

“All the players did well, they fought to win the game. That tournament was dream for me. A UAE-born cricketer, who spent all his life watching, playing domestic cricket in UAE, then suddenly getting a bigger platform like this.

“You are playing at the World Cup. You are not representing yourself, you are representing the whole country, and all the youngsters who dream of doing that and playing in those tournaments.

“We haven’t qualified this time, but, Inshallah, in the future we will do again.”

Updated: May 24, 2019 09:03 AM

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