Monday, June 23, 2008

Asia Cup 2008: Getting to Know the UAE

As most of you know, I have lived in the UAE for the last 25 years and have been associated with domestic cricket in the country having played Division B cricket since 2002 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

During this time I have played against some of the cricketers that are a part of the UAE team taking part in the Asia Cup.

Thus, through first hand experience of playing with these players, here is a brief introduction on who they are.

Saqib Ali

Originally from Rawal Pindi, Saqib Ali is the captain of the UAE. I'm not sure why Cricinfo is listing Arshad Ali as the captain. It is most definitely Saqib Ali.

I first played against Saqib Ali about 4 years ago when he was still a student at SZABIST University at the Dubai Knowledge Village.

It was a friendly match between the University team and the 'Young Pakistan Professionals Cricket Club', which I was a part of. Saqib didn't score much against us then.

The next time I played against Saqib was in last year's 20-20 cricket tournament where I was playing for Babcock, an engineering firm, and Saqib opened for the 'New Medical Centre' team.

By then Saqib Ali was captaining the UAE and had become one of the best batsmen in the country, and he showed why in his knock of 93 against us.

A strong middle order batsman, Saqib recently made the headlines with a career best 195 in a first class match against a touring Ireland team.

In 10 first class matches, Saqib Ali has scored 940 runs at an average of 55.29 with 4 centuries and 3 fifities.

Amjad Ali

The wicketkeeper of the UAE, Amjad Ali is originally from Lahore, where he will be playing against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.

Amjad is a left handed batsman an opens the batting for the UAE as he does for his domestic teams. He ended the current domestic season in blistering form with a number of centuries one after another.

I played against him 2 months ago in a Division B cricket tournament where I was playing for 'ACE Cricket Club'.

Going into the match against 'United Bank Limited', we had all heard about Amjad Ali's centuries in the previous 3 matches. Luckily for us we managed to get him out in the 2nd over for only 1 as he tried to cut a short ball only to spoon it to point for an easy catch.

He went on to score a couple more 100s in the following matches.

His first class average of 22.25 doesn't say much about Amjad Ali, but you can expect some firing starts from the UAE if he gets going.

Vikrant Shetty

One of the younger members of the UAE squad, Vikrant is originally from Mumbai and is a hard hitting middle order batsman.

He plays for 'Arab Udupi' in the domestic leagues, which is a strong team in Division A cricket and has won a number of cricket tournaments.

I played against Vikrant in last years 20-20 cricket tournament, where he smashed my part time leg spin for 4 sixes in 1 over. I beat him 1st ball but then saw the next 4 sail over my head. He picked a single of the last one. He scored a quickfire 40 odd against us.

Vikrant is yet to play a first class or List A game for the UAE.

Alawi Shukri

One of the few local Emiratis in the team, Alawi Shukri, is an 18 year old talented middle order batsman.

I haven't played against him but have seen him play against my brother in matches involving U19 teams from the different Emirates.

He is yet to play a first-class or list A match for the UAE but he has been in the news recently for setting up a cricket club for UAE Nationals and for becoming the youngest cricket official in the country.

Alawi Shukri has also been campaigning for a quota system for UAE's selections and he got his wish when the UAE made it mandatory to have 4 local Emiratis in a touring squad.

Besides Shukri, the other UAE Nationals in the squad are batsmen Mohammad Tauqir and Salman Farooq, and fast bowler Fahad Al Hashmi.

The UAE kick off their 2nd Asia Cup campaign against Bangladesh tomorrow in Lahore.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. SledgeHammer said...

    They have a SZABIST in Dubai? Are you serious?

  2. Q said...

    Yep, they've had it for 8 years now since the Knowledge Village opened in 2000.

    The UAE holds Zulfiqar Ali Butto in very high regard, which is why BB ended up living here freely while she was in exile.

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