x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE cricketer Saqib Ali offered Bangladesh Premier League contract

Saqib Ali reaches another milestone by becoming the first UAE cricketer to feature in the Bangladesh Premier League, writes Amith Passela.

Saqib Ali will become the first UAE cricketer to feature in the Bangladesh Premier League when he turns out for Mohammedan in the 50-over-a-side tournament. Satish Kumar / The National
Saqib Ali will become the first UAE cricketer to feature in the Bangladesh Premier League when he turns out for Mohammedan in the 50-over-a-side tournament. Satish Kumar / The National

Saqib Ali will become the first UAE cricketer to feature in the Bangladesh Premier League when he turns out for Mohammedan in the 50-over-a-side tournament.

The Pakistan-born batsman, 35, will join players from Test playing nations to compete against local players in the ongoing tournament as soon as his travel visa is approved.

“The contract is for three matches played over two weeks and then they will review an extension depending on my performances,” Saqib said. “It is a great opportunity though, for me play at this level. This experience will certainly help me for the important competitions that are coming up for the UAE. ”

According to Saqib, he was contacted by Mohammedans on a recommendation from the Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, who plays for the same club.

“Nabi casually asked me if I would be interested in playing and I readily agreed. I received a call and the deal was completed,” he said.

“I am not aware of the set-up but looking forward to the games that I may get to play. This is a big step forward for me and I want to grab the opportunity with a good performance.”

Saqib’s career was almost cut short with a serious injury that required surgery on his lower back for a bulging disc.

He underwent the operation in Pakistan and returned to action after more than seven months out when he played for his employer New Medical Centre for the Ramadan Cup in July.

Saqib was left out of the UAE’s tour to Canada in July and August but was back on the team for the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup in Singapore in the same month. He scored 71 against Sri Lanka Under 23.

He was a member of the UAE team that did a clean sweep over Namibia in the four-day Intercontinental Cup and the two 50-over-side games in the World Cricket League Championship at Sharjah Stadium last week.

“These games will really count when I play in Bangladesh,” he said. “I have been working very hard to regain full fitness since I returned from surgery. I feel better but it is a continuous process to gain full fitness.”

Injuries have not discouraged Saqib from either playing or giving everything he has for the team.

“I love challenges. I want to play as long as possible and for that reason I will do everything within my capacity to remain fit and competitive,” he said.

“The opportunity to play in Bangladesh is another challenge. I want to do well for myself and portray the high level of cricket we play in the UAE.”

apassela@thenational.ae