UAE’s Rameez Shahzad has warned Scotland to expect a tough day in their World Cricket League (WCL) meeting, saying he’s hungry as ever to score a century after being frustrated in their four-day game.
The 28-year-old batsman could not have asked for a better start to his first-class debut with 74 runs but was denied by rain to add to that total as the four-day Intercontinental Cup was abandoned on Friday with only 66 overs played in Ayr.
Shahzad has the chance to carry on from where he started in today’s 50-over WCL encounter in Edinburgh and is determined to go even better with the bat.
“It was a really good show by us and we were at 212-5 before the match was called off,” he said. “It was ashame that I couldn’t score my maiden first-class century. I really want to maintain that form and score a century in the ODIs.”
Today’s clash will be his first competitive limited-overs appearance since the 2008 ACC Trophy Final against Hong Kong in Malaysia, after he had to re-qualify to play for the UAE having studied in England.
He has been involved in the national set-up over the last year, playing against England XI and Lions in practice matches and is eager to make up for lost time.
“It’s been quite frustrating not to have played but it feels great to be back and hopefully I can make the most out of it,” he said.
The tourists are bottom of the eight-team standings with just one win in six games. But Paul Franks’ troops will fancy their chances of claiming maximum points.
“We will make things difficult for them because we have an aggressive style and have a really balanced squad,” he said. “Hopefully we can perform well and beat Scotland.”
Skipper Amjad Javed believes the UAE’s draw with Scotland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup shows the country is moving in the right direction.
The four-day encounter was a washout with only one day’s play possible in Ayr, but there was a silver lining for Javed and Co as the result meant the UAE earned their first points in the competition and halted a three-game losing streak.
Shaiman Anwar (78) and Rameez Shahzad (74) shone for interim coach Paul Franks’ men as his side recovered from losing three wickets in five balls which left them at 33-3 at one stage.
The UAE recovered superbly to end day one on 198-5 but only seven overs were possible before rain ended play on day two.
The rain failed to yield and the match was drawn, but Javed said their first points of the tournament provides a boost ahead of a World Cricket League Championship ODI double header with the Scots starting in Edinburgh tomorrow.
“When we arrived in Scotland we knew that the weather would play an important role but we kept our focus on cricket and the preparation was very good,” said the 36-year-old all-rounder.
“The boys were up for any challenge and to recover from 33-3 to 212-5 proved that mentally we are ready for it. Getting out from that situation and fighting hard on day one after early wickets shows that the boys believe in themselves and to get our first points shows we are moving in the right direction and it will motivate the team for the upcoming matches.”
Franks, who was named interim coach following Aaqib Javed’s departure in May, said the draw left a bittersweet taste in the mouth as his team had put themselves in a decent position before the weather intervened.
“Confidence has been taken from the performance and while I would have preferred winning points, they are points none the less,” he said.
Resuming play on 198-5 in Ayr on Wednesday, Rameez Shahzad (74) and nightwatchman Ahmed Raza (9) only added 14 runs to their overnight score, facing just six overs before umpires abandoned play just after 18:00 UAE time.
It is the second consecutive day the match has been hit with bad weather but Franks accepts this is just part of the game.
“The conditions have been inconsistent for the last few days,” said the 37-year-old, who has been named interim coach for the tour after Aaqib Javed stepped down in May.
“It hasn’t rained heavily but it has rained consistently and unfortunately the guys had no choice but to call off play at 3pm. It wasn’t going to stop and to be honest it is a frustrating day all round.”
He added: “There’s not much that you can do when you are in the dressing room waiting for the rain to stop. They had an opportunity to chill out, rest and switch their minds off.
“It’s one of the frustrating things of playing cricket in the UK. You have to wait to kill time and the boys will not be used to this as it’s very rarely something they have to deal with in the UAE.”
While the Englishman will be encouraged by what he’s seen so far, the forecast for the remainder of the four-day match is grim with rain expected on Thursday and Friday.
But the former England international is adamant the weather will not be an excuse for the players to lose their focus and has backed them to cause problems for the hosts if or when the match resumes.
“They have been very good in understanding and implementing the tactics on the field,” he said.
“Myself and the captain (Amjad Javed) will be very clear on where we want the game to go over the next two days.
“When our time comes, we still have a lot of batting to do and still got strength in our middle-order to come. We’ll hopefully be in a position where we can dictate terms and when we do bowl, we will go out there and do a good job and give ourselves the best chance to finish the game.”
Shahzad only added eight to his overnight score and agreed with Franks that the wet conditions are proving to be a challenge.
“It’s a bit difficult batting now because the wicket is now a bit wet so the ball has started to move now,” said the 28-year-old. “It just means we all have to concentrate more and keep going.”