x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rohan Mustafa settles in at No 5 and delivers for UAE cricket team

The 24 year old Rohan Mustafa turned in an impressive all-around performance to lift the UAE past Oman at the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Nepal, writes Paul Radley.

Rohan Mustafa, left, stepped into the UAE national team spotlight yesterday during a win over Oman. Satish Kumar / The National
Rohan Mustafa, left, stepped into the UAE national team spotlight yesterday during a win over Oman. Satish Kumar / The National

Rohan Mustafa's growing importance within UAE cricket reached new heights on Wednesday after his sparkling all-round display set up a convincing win over Oman in the ACC Twenty20 Cup in Nepal.

The 24 year old took three wickets from his miserly four-over spell, affected a run out and then settled the seven-wicket success over the UAE's neighbours with a six off his first scoring shot with the bat.

By way of this 20-over tournament in Nepal, the national team have been tried to foist greater responsibility on younger players by resting, most notably, the regular captain, Khurram Khan.

Mustafa has been handed the No 5 berth in the batting order, a distinguished office which Khurram has held for the best part of a decade.

The younger man has not been cowed by the task. As you might expect for a player nicknamed "man of crisis" by the team's coach, Aaqib Javed, on account of his ability to cope with on-field pressure.

Mustafa has thrived under the added responsibility.

"Khurram had been batting No 5 for years and before this tournament started, I told him this would be his role," said Ahmed Raza, the caretaker captain for this tournament.

"I was telling him to fill the shoes of Khurram Khan and that is not a small thing, but up till now, he has been living up to the expectations of mine and Aaqib."

Before departing for Nepal, Aaqib spoke of his desire to "change the face" of UAE cricket, namely by improving the fielding discipline, which has been the national team's Achilles heel for so long.

Mustafa's influence is even more keenly felt as the side's leading fielder and Raza says his young colleague can be a match winner in any of the three disciplines.

"He is a multi-talented cricketer, so he can have an impact in any facet of the game," Raza said.

"I use Rohan's bowling in all different situations - in the [power play], the middle overs and at the death. Whenever I have asked him a question, he has answered it.

"It is nice to have youngsters doing so well in the team now and he has been playing really well for the past one-and-a-half years now."

pradley@thenational.ae

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