Red Bull athlete Chirag Suri stars for UAE at Asia Cup cricket qualifiers

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Rising star: Chirag Suri has been in great form in the Asia Cup qualifiers

Batsman Chirag Suri has been in sensational form as the UAE’s performances in the Asia Cup qualifiers, in Kuala Lumpur, has seen them ranked number one in the tournament.

After back-to-back games the UAE defeated Singapore by 215 runs and Nepal by 78 runs last week to position themselves nicely for the final against Hong Kong (UAE: 05:30on Thursday.

One of the shining lights of the competition has been batsman Suri, who’s in the form of his life hitting 111 runs against Singapore and 65 against Nepal making him the tournament’s leading scorer. “The last few games have been really good, I’ve been training really hard,” he told Sport360°. “The potential to play against India and Pakistan in the finals, taking place in the UAE, has been a great source of inspiration. They’re two massive games and so there has been excitement and nervousness in equal measure.”
“I’m hitting the ball well and getting the runs which is what matters. I’ve been performing consistently and I think I’m a more mature batsman now and pleased with my runs in the competition. I’ve definitely got an eye on the personal accolades but I’ve got to put the team first. I don’t want to be the highest scorer and then not qualify for the games against the big nations. I want to win games for the team, I think that’s the key and also the way to get noticed personally.”
The 23-year-old has made his way through the ranks of the UAE team, notably via Red Bull’s Campus Cricket events, which has seen college cricketers play in tournaments in India and Sri Lanka.
“It’s competitions like the Campus Cricket that really help young cricketers like myself, you get experience playing in different countries at a young age which helps prepare you for tournaments like the Asia Cup,” he added.
On the hectic qualifying schedule from Malaysia Suri added: “It’s been a tough tournament having twice played 50-over games back-to-back here so it’s been hard on the body. Our days off were just spent relaxing. It’s not as hot as Dubai but it’s very humid here so we’ve just been resting up and I’ve been drinking a can of Red Bull before each game to get my energy levels up.
“As a team, we’ve had to adapt our game a bit because of the change in conditions. The thing with playing in Malaysia is you’ve always got rain around the corner so you’ve got to bear that in mind.” The Asia Cup kick off in the UAE on September 15.

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Hello, the Sport360 team is in place to provide you with the latest news, comment and analysis on all things cricket.

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Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

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Shaw (l) and Jadeja.

Shaw (l) and Jadeja.

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UAE coach: Dougie Brown.

UAE coach: Dougie Brown.

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Farewell: Alastair Cook in Thursday’s press conference

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Rohan Mustafa's superb all-round display helps UAE reach Asia Cup Qualifier final

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Rohan Mustafa (left) top-scored for the UAE on Tuesday. Image: Asian Cricket Council

The UAE took one step closer to reaching the Asia Cup after a tense 13-run victory over Oman set up a final with Hong Kong on Thursday.

The UAE went into Tuesday’s game knowing a win over their Gulf neighbours would guarantee them a place in the title decider and they did exactly that in Kuala Lumpur.

Batting in damp conditions, most of the batsmen struggled but captain Rohan Mustafa led from the front as he hit 71 from 104 deliveries to help the UAE post 208 in their 50 overs. Mustafa’s knock was crucial considering the second highest score was Ashfaq Ahmed’s 24.

It was their lowest total when batting first in the Asia Cup Qualifier but that did not matter as the bowlers did their job with the ball.

Mustafa did more damage with the ball, taking 2-31 and joined Mohammad Naveed (2-51) and Amir Hayat (2-48) among the wicket-takers.

Spinner Ahmed Raza claimed one scalp before Shaiman Anwar wrapped up the win when he dismissed Bilal Khan as Oman were all out for 195 in the 47th over.

The result means UAE finish top of the group standings with eight points, ahead of Hong Kong, who sealed their final berth on run-rate after they finished level on points with Oman.

Should the UAE win on Thursday against Hong Kong, they will qualify for the Asia Cup which will be held in the Emirates later this month.

And Mustafa believes they are on the right track going into the game although he wants his batsmen to step up.

“It was a great performance by everyone. It was hard wicket to bat on in the morning but come the afternoon, there was nothing in it. The guys did very well and they helped us a lot,” said the all-rounder.

He added: “We need to improve in the middle-order because they are not scoring as many runs as they should be. We have Shaiman, Rameez and Usman who are very good batsmen and they need to start scoring. The good sides have their middle-order batsmen performing and we need to do the same.”

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