UAE's star impressed with coach Shah

Denzil Pinto 11/11/2016
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Thumbs up: Shahzad is impressed with Shah.

UAE batsman Rameez Shahzad feels the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have made a right choice in appointing Owais Shah as the interim head coach after being impressed with his coaching methods so far in training.

Shah, a former England international, was last week confirmed as the temporary coach until the end of January having previously overseen training for two weeks in October as a coaching consultant. His first matches in this role could be against England Lions and Afghanistan with the two sides set to face the UAE in Dubai before the end of the year.

While Shahzad is relishing those encounters, he welcomed Shah’s appointment and had nothing but praise for the experienced batsman, who counts the Indian Premier League and Big Bash League among the tournaments he’s played in.

“He’s come in and made a few things in training,” said the 28-year-old. “Although we are spending a lot of time in the gym, we are spending more time working on different areas like improving our concentration and different aspects of the game.

“It is challenging but I have to admit, it is really good to have Owais Shah work with us for a longer time. He has played cricket all over the world and having played the game as a specialist batsman is a big plus considering we’ve been struggling lately with the bat.”

Although Shah has been involved in the national set-up for less than six weeks, he has already emphasised on the importance of ensuring there’s a high standard of professionalism off and on the field, and Shahzad is beginning to see positive results in training.

“Before Owais Shah came and started working with us, we just used to bowl and bat in the nets and continue practicing those skills,” he said. “But since he came, he has told us that we are now professionals and need to act and play as professional cricketers. He said our mentality needs to change at times if we want to perform well in games and apply that in training.

“That was sometimes missing especially here in the UAE domestic game, We are just used to being aggressive at the crease and try to hit each shot for a boundary.

“He has told us many times that the way we approach games as well as changing our mindsets is crucial because each delivery we will face will be different and it’s up to us to deal with the problem.”

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#360view: Proteas need to preserve Rabada

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Kagiso Rabada is a rising star in international cricket.

South Africa continued there excellent record in Perth, winning their third Test in a row at the WACA. And a major credit for the win goes to the 21-year-old pacer Kagiso Rabada.

Ever since he gave a glimpse of his talent during the U-19 World Cup in 2014, Rabada has made rapid strides in the international arena. His height, pace and ability to swing the ball late make him an irresistible talent and it is no wonder the Proteas are going ga-ga about him, even though he has played just nine Tests.

What makes Rabada’s Perth effort even more impressive is the fact that South Africa lost the services of the leader of their attack – Dale Steyn – in the first innings itself.

Steyn’s shoulder injury will keep him out for a long time, and maybe affect his career as well. His injury must have been dispiriting for the Proteas but full marks to Rabada for stepping up to the challenge right in the middle of a Test.

His seven scalps in a match where even Aussie pacer Mitchell Starc struggled in the second innings show that he has it in him to create wicket-taking opportunities and that is a priceless ability. However, his workload is a matter of concern.

Rabada bowled 51 overs in the Test, the second most by any quick in the match and on a hard Perth surface, his body must have taken quite a hit. Even though he said the number of overs don’t bother him, the team management must step in and not let such a talent grind himself to dust early in his career.

The Proteas have Morne Morkel in the squad and he should regain his fitness for the second Test. Morkel, along with Vernon Philander, should share the bulk of the load as they are the senior bowlers and allow the Proteas to use Rabada the way he should be – as a strike weapon.

The Johannesburg pacer has a long road ahead of him and there is no limit to what he can achieve as a fast bowler. Rabada needs to be given time to realise his potential and develop his bowling.

It is said a genuine fast bowler has only a certain number of deliveries in his body. South Africa must use them judiciously.

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Brathwaite & Holder put West Indies in charge

West Indies could salvage some Sharjah pride.

West Indies’ hopes of finishing a disappointing tour with a consolation victory over Pakistan were boosted on the third day of the third Test in Sharjah.

Defeat in the first two Tests condemned the Windies to a series loss, following on from 3-0 defeats in the one-day and Twenty20 formats.

But Kraigg Brathwaite’s efforts with the bat were followed by a good bowling display to put them in a strong position in the final match in the UAE.

Brathwaite became just the fifth West Indian to carry his bat in a Test with an unbeaten 142 in the tourists’ total of 337.

And Pakistan closed on 87 for four in their second innings, a lead of only 31 runs.

The Windies resumed on 244 for six, with Brathwaite five runs short of a century. He wasted no time reaching the landmark, hitting a four off the first ball and then a two later on in the opening over to bring up his fifth Test ton.

The opener received good support from captain Jason Holder (16) and, in particular, Devendra Bishoo, with whom he put on 60 before the spinner was out for 27.

Wahab Riaz eventually unlocked the West Indies tail, following the wicket of Bishoo by snaring Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel to complete a five-wicket haul and bring the innings to a close.

Pakistan’s second innings began steadily enough until Holder claimed three wickets in as many overs.

Sami Aslam, Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan all fell to the paceman and, when Misbah-ul-Haq holed out to Roston Chase in the deep off the bowling of Bishoo, Pakistan were 48 for four, still eight runs behind.

Azhar Ali (45 not out) and Sarfraz Ahmed (19no) stemmed the flow and ensured Pakistan reached the close without further loss, but there is a lot of work still to be done.

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