UAE players are ready for what promises to be a cracking limited overs series against Nepal, beginning in Dubai from Friday.
UAE host Nepal in a three ODI and three T20 series at the ICC Academy. Nepal, who recently gained ODI status, will have star leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane in their side, which will be a boost for the visitors.
Adding to the intrigue is the suspension of three UAE players for their outburst on social media. The Emirates Cricket Board suspended Rohan Mustafa, the then captain, Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad for eight weeks in December after they posted tweets expressing their anger following UAE’s exit from the Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Pakistan.
In the tweets, the three had criticised hosts Pakistan Cricket Board after their final pool match against Hong Kong was washed out following a brief spell of rain. Fast bowler Mohammed Naveed has been handed the captaincy.
With the enforced changes, the pressure will be on UAE to deliver against a fast-rising Nepal team and batsman Chirag Suri said it’s up to the players – especially batsmen like him – to take up responsibility and make up for the absence of the players.
“The added pressure is good for you. It means more responsibility as batsmen because you have to value your wicket more,” Suri told Sport360 on Wednesday.
“I like such pressure situations. It’s an opportunity for players to step up. The forced changes were beyond our control but it’s up to us to do our best.”
The main threat to UAE will be posed by star leg-spinner Lamichhane who has become a household name in the T20 world within a span of 12 months after making his IPL debut last year.
Since then, the 18-year-old has played in all major franchise leagues across the globe, including the Big Bash League. While the leg-spinner is a force to be reckoned with in white-ball cricket, Suri said his team’s batsmen need to play the ball and not the bowler.
“Sandeep is a world-class bowler. But for us, we have to treat him like any other leg-spinner. Our batsmen have faced him before. He is a class bowler and we respect him but we must face the ball and not the bowler,” Suri added.
Despite the changes in the team, Suri said the squad is motivated enough and has adequate bench strength to remain focused on winning.
“The preparation has been very good. Since it’s the first bilateral series against Nepal, players are highly motivated,” he added.
“We are lucky to have good bench strength. Our expectations do not change because of the squad changes. It is a great opportunity for the players in the team to show their hunger.”
All matches will be streamed online via Emirates Cricket Board’s social pages.
First ODI: 09:30, Friday, January 25
Second ODI: 09:30, Saturday, January 26
Third ODI: 09:30, Monday, January 28
First T20: 13:00, Thursday, January 31
Second T20: 13:00, Friday, February 1
Third T20: 13:00, Sunday, February 3
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