x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Khurram calls for teammates to ‘give everything you have’ for Ireland clash

Coach Aaqib Javed says the UAE will be better off for their chastening World Twenty20 experience against the Netherlands as they gear up for do-or-die clash against more seasoned rivals on the world stage.

Khurram Khan, left, insists UAE are a better side than what was on display in their first match against the Netherlands on Monday, March 17, 2014. AM Ahad / AP Photo
Khurram Khan, left, insists UAE are a better side than what was on display in their first match against the Netherlands on Monday, March 17, 2014. AM Ahad / AP Photo

SYLHET, BANGLADESH // As the UAE and Ireland practised on neighbouring sides of the Sylhet International Stadium yesterday, it was not difficult to tell which set of players felt more at home.

When it comes to major international tournaments, Ireland have been there, done that, collected the major trophies. Having to play a preliminary round before the proper event should be a little beneath them by now.

They are so used to playing on stages like this, they appeared to have not a care in the world at their optional training session before their second pool match today.

Their biggest concern seemed to be when their batsman Niall O’Brien booted the team football over the fence before the warm-up.

Across the field, the contrast was stark. The previous evening, the UAE’s players had endured a chastening World Twenty20 debut, losing to the Netherlands in a flurry of dropped catches.

Their performance was grossly unbecoming in comparison to the standards they had set in reaching this point.

As they ran through the mandatory fielding drills a day later, it seemed as though many were glumly fearing the next time a catch will come their way with the cameras on them.

However, Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, believes they will be far stronger for the experience of their tournament opener.

“The boys want to learn as we have a 50 over World Cup to play in nine months time,” Aaqib said. “We have achieved a lot in the past year and, look, things are obviously getting tougher now.

“There is pressure now, but if you compare that to the pressure there was in the process of trying to qualify for the World Cup, that was serious pressure.

“To qualify for the World Cup after nearly 20 years was a massive hurdle.

“They have crossed it, and they are enjoying themselves now.”

If the national team are to stand a chance of advancing from the first round, they must win each of their remaining games, against Ireland today and Zimbabwe on Friday. “We have two very important games and we have had to regroup,” said Khurram Khan, the UAE captain.

“There is still a lot to play for. There is no point coming all the way here then just thinking [Ireland] are a better team than us. This is a do-or-die game for us. You have to give everything you have. It is a very big game and we will try our best.”

With such a brief turnaround between games, Khurram did not see the value in Naughty Boy Nets, or writing out a thousand lines saying: I must learn how to catch.

“It is not that you have lost everything and you don’t know how to field any more,” said Khurram, who shelled a tough, one-handed chance himself, which he gestured as being the fault of the floodlights.

“Yes, we dropped so many catches, but it just happened. We are not as bad as it looked in that game. We are a better team and hopefully we will show that against Ireland.”

William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, wants his side to carry on where they left off in their three-wicket, final-ball win over the Zimbabweans on opening night.

“We want to keep that momentum going and there are always areas you can improve,” Porterfield said.

pradley@thenational.ae

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