UAE captain Rohan Mustafa relishing challenge of playing in Nepal's T20 competition

Denzil Pinto 31/03/2018
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UAE captain Rohan Mustafa hopes to use Nepal’s Dhangadi Premier League (DPL) as a platform to press his case of winning a major T20 league contract.

The 29-year-old all-rounder left for Kathmandu on Friday evening for the second edition of the T20 tournament, which got underway on Saturday.

Mustafa will line up for Team Chauraha Dhangadhi after being roped in as one of their overseas players for the two-week competition that ends on April 14.

The tournament might not be as high-profile as the Indian Premier League and Pakistan Super League but it has attracted a number of Nepalese stars including skipper Paras Khadka. Hong Kong batsman Babar Hayat will also feature while Puneet Bisht, who was a member of Delhi Daredevils squad in 2012, is one of nine Indians signed up.

Barring Chirag Suri, who was sold to Gujarat Lions in last year’s IPL, the UAE players have found chances of playing in the elite T20 events hard to come by. And while Mustafa acknowledges the DPL will not be as high quality as the PSL or Big Bash League, it can be a small step in catching the eye of potential coaches.

“Yes of course, it can be a step to getting a T20 contract,” said Mustafa, who was part of the triumphant Kerala Kings squad led by England skipper Eoin Morgan in last year’s T10 League.

“Me and the other UAE players all have an intention of playing in one of the big T20 competitions and I hope to use this tournament as a chance to play my best cricket and hopefully get picked up one day in the future. All I can do is just go out there and give my best and help my team win the title.”

Mustafa got the chance to play in the tournament after a discussion with former national captain Khurram Khan and after holding talks with team officials, it was an opportunity that he simply could not turn down.

“Khurram told me about an opportunity and from that moment I was interested,” he added. “It is a new tournament that has many of Nepal’s national players playing while there are a number of overseas players, so it was something I was very interested in playing in.

“I have played in many countries around the world and I think playing against cricketers you’ve not played against will be a good challenge and one that will help me become a better player.”

He is the only UAE international to be playing in the competition and is hopeful more can follow in his footsteps next year.

“To be honest, I would’ve liked more UAE players to play in this tournament so hopefully some of them will get a chance in the future.”

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'Devastated' Steve Smith breaks down during press conference in Australia

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Steve Smith has been banned for a year for his role in the scandal.

Steve Smith broke down during a press conference following his return to Australia on Thursday after being sent home from South Africa for his role in the ball-tampering controversy that has shocked his country.

“I want to, as captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility,” he said. “I made a serious error in judgement.

“It was a failure of leadership, my leadership.

“I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage it’s caused.

“If any good is to come from this it can be a lesson for others and I hope I can be a force for change.

“I know I’ll regret this for the rest of my life. I’m absolutely gutted.”

Smith was speaking in front of a packed press conference at Sydney International Airport, where he had been given a hostile welcome upon arrival earlier on Thursday.

“I say two things, or three things,” he said. “Firstly, I’m deeply sorry. I love the game of cricket, I love entertaining young kids, I love kids wanting to play the great game of cricket that I love.

“The two other things is that, any time you think about making a questionable decision, think about who you’re affecting, you’re affecting your parents.

“To see the way my old man’s been … it hurts. I just want to say I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve brought to Australia and the fans and the public, it’s devastating and I’m truly sorry.

“I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness, I’ve been so privileged and honoured to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team.

“Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It’s been my life, and I hope it can be again.

“I’m sorry and I’m absolutely devastated.”

Smith also brushed aside a question regarding reports that the ball-tampering plan was hatched by vice-captain David Warner before being carried out by rookie opener Cameron Bancroft.

“I’m the captain the of Australian team,” he said. “It’s on my watch and I take responsibility of the actions of what happened last Saturday in Cape Town.”

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England drop Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes for second Test against New Zealand

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Moeen Ali's form with bat and ball has cratered.

England have dropped mainstays Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes from their team to face New Zealand in the second and final Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Out-of-form all-rounder Moeen was widely-expected to lose his place if England decided to make changes after their innings-and-49-run defeat in Auckland.

Frontline seamer Woakes’ absence from a 12 announced after nets on Thursday is more surprising – with batsman James Vince, uncapped spinner Jack Leach and fit-again fast bowler Mark Wood instead included.

England still face a tough selection call on the morning of a critical match – complicated by the likelihood all-rounder Ben Stokes will remain unavailable to bowl.

Stokes did so in the nets on Wednesday, but not 24 hours on, as he continues to struggle with a stiff back.

The tourists therefore face the quandary of going in light on either batting or bowling as they try to avoid ending their tough Ashes winter with a second series defeat and record 13th away Test in succession without victory.

Minus Vince, they will have a curiously long tail. Without slow left-armer Leach, the pace of Wood or Craig Overton’s steady seamers, they will have only four bowling options – unless Stokes reports fit to play his full all-round role after all.

England’s 12-man squad (v New Zealand in Christchurch): JE Root (Captain), AN Cook, JM Vince, MD Stoneman, DJ Malan, BA Stokes, JM Bairstow (wkt), C Overton, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, MJ Leach, MA Wood

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