UAE celebrate new captain and coach appointments with win over Hong Kong
DUBAI // The UAE celebrated the appointment of a new captain and coach with an overdue series win in one-day international cricket.
The national team claimed a six-wicket win over Hong Kong, two days after beating Scotland, to finish top of the group in the brief tri-nations series in Dubai.
The two matches were the first overseen by Rohan Mustafa since he replaced Amjad Javed, who led the side for the past year, as captain at the start of the week.
The win over Hong Kong was the last of Owais Shah’s interim spell in charge. Dougie Brown, the former Warwickshire director of cricket, applauded the victory from the home team dressing room, having been introduced to the players as their new coach before the match.
Mustafa, 28, said he was honoured to captain his country. He has lived in the UAE since he was 10, when his family moved from Pakistan to Sharjah, where his father had a car sales business.
After his father died five years later, Mustafa opted to remain in his adopted homeland and pursue his dream of playing international cricket.
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“It is a big achievement to even represent your country,” Mustafa said.
“If you are the captain of the team, it means you are representing the whole of UAE cricket. There was a little bit of pressure because we were had been losing, but I spoke to the guys and they have been very, very supportive.
“Amjad Javed, Mohammed Naveed, these senior players, told me they would support me. It is a proud moment for me.”
He is the fifth UAE captain since the start of 2015, as the armband passed between Khurram Khan, Mohammed Tauqir, Ahmed Raza, Amjad and now Mustafa.
The coaching position has been equally unsettled. Aaqib Javed resigned after four years in the role last May, before Paul Franks and then Shah each filled the breach temporarily.
The UAE featured in a number of Brown’s playing career landmarks. He made his international debut for England in Sharjah in 1997, and played his last first-class match at the same ground for Scotland against UAE in 2007.
His first competitive engagement as coach will be the Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League fixtures against Papua New Guinea in April in Abu Dhabi. The national team are bottom of the table in both competitions.
“It is difficult when coaches come and go, it is hard for the players to adjust to them,” Mustafa said.
“Everyone comes with a new mind, with new ideas, and it is difficult to adjust to that way of thinking. Owais worked hard with us, and [Brown] will come in and work hard with us for the upcoming matches, so there is no problem.”
The new captain and coach appointments arrive just as the side are hinting at a return to form after 18 months in the doldrums.
It might only be a small sample size, but 2017 has already provided shoots of optimism for the national team. The successes over Scotland and Hong Kong were their first one-day international wins in 11 matches, a run that extended back to 2014.
The emergence of Imran Haider, the new leg-spinner, has been one of the highlights of the team’s improved performances, including in the Desert T20 last week.
Having taken three wickets against Scotland on Tuesday, he managed four for 25 to bring about a Hong Kong batting collapse.
“It feels good that I have been performing for UAE,” Haider said. “When I come to bowl, my aim is to put the other team under pressure and to perform well every time.”
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