x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Khurram Khan asks UAE cricketers to dig deep

Captain optimistic about chances of winning Asian Cricket Council Trophy as coach Aaqib Javed leans on his experienced players.

Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, expects his side to fight hard and lift the Asian Cricket Council Trophy.
Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, expects his side to fight hard and lift the Asian Cricket Council Trophy.

Aaqib Javed may be new to the Asian Cricket Council Trophy, but the UAE coach still has plenty of experience to call on in his playing ranks, having named his squad for next week's 50-over competition today.

The limited-overs competition for the leading Asian nations beyond the Test sphere represents the former Pakistan fast bowler's first shot at silverware since he took charge of the side earlier this year.

The UAE are no strangers to success in the competition. Mohammed Tauqir, the seasoned Emirati off-spinner who is the side's vice captain, was on the winning side four times in the tournament between 2000 and 2006.

Tauqir is part of an experienced core of UAE players who were used to winning the trophy, and who are keen to return to winning ways having failed to win the last two events.

Khurram Khan, the long-serving captain, will lead the side again on home soil. Saqib Ali and Arshad Ali, each of whom has captained the national team in the past, are also around to boost the well of all-rounders.

"We have a pretty balanced team and hopefully we can go the full distance this time around," said Khurram, the Fly Emirates batsman. "For that to happen, we will have to summon our 'A' game against all teams. You never know what will happen in this format of cricket, but if self-belief is a yardstick, I expect great fight from the boys."

If the tournament follows the prevailing form in competitions at this level, the UAE would be due to meet Afghanistan, the defending ACC Trophy champions, in the final.

The Afghans, who are managed by the former UAE coach and Pakistan fast bowler Kabir Khan, arrive in the Emirates on the back of a fitful performance at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

While they showed signs of great promise in pool matches against India and England, they will be disappointed by the manner in which they capitulated against the latter.

"The crowd and cameras increased the pressure on the players," Kabir was quoted as saying before his side departed Colombo.

"Even our best fielders dropped catches, and later our batsmen succumbed to anxiety, as well. We are working on the weakness, but it will take time."

The UAE begin their campaign in the 10-team competition when they play Nepal at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on October 3.

Afghanistan, who beat Nepal to win the title in Kuwait two years ago, will also benefit from a semblance of home advantage in the competition.

The national team play their home games in international competition at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

pradley@thenational.ae

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