Perera eager to mix with the UAE seniors

Denzil Pinto 25/08/2016
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Great servant: Waruna Perera

Former skipper Waruna Perera has set his sights on making the UAE senior team having been overlooked in the Under-19 squad for next month’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers due to age restrictions.

The batsman was one of eight players to have been ineligible for the 50-over tournament in Malaysia after the International Cricket Council (ICC), ruled only players born after September 1, 1998 can be named in the final 16-man squad.

Having turned 19 on June 6, Perera’s U-19 international career is now over and while he enjoyed every minute of donning the national jersey in his four years, he is determined to step up his game and break into the seniors set-up within the next two years.

“I’m not disappointed because one day my UAE Under-19 career was always going to come to an end,” said Perera, who led the team in last year’s Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) Premier League tournament in Malaysia.

“Playing for four years for the UAE has been great. It made me a different player and I started looking at the sport in a different way. “It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t ask for anything better than that.”

A member of the UAE World Cup squad in 2014, the Desert Cubs player has been a familiar name in the set-up. Unlike many of his team-mates who have gone abroad to study, he plans to stay in the UAE and continue his international career.

“For sure, I’ll be staying in the UAE and have no plans of leaving. I’ll be studying here and I really want to make the senior team,” he said. “I’m willing to work hard and if I do make it to do the senior team, it will be a really special moment. But I just want to improve my fitness and stay injury free.”

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Three NSL players picked for UAE U19 qualifiers

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Jonathan Figy: NSL star.

Three players who represented their schools in the ADIB NSL Cricket in partnership with OSN have been selected in the UAE squad for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament in Malaysia next month

Jonathan Figy (Abu Dhabi Indian School), Aryan Lakra (DPS Dubai) and Ansh Tandon (Gulf Asian Challengers) are among the 16 that will travel to the Far East after impressing Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) selectors during an inter-emirate tournament and a two-month training camp.

With more than 2,000 runs scored and 24 wickets taken in 36 games last season, ADIS captain Figy is delighted to have made the 16, having been overlooked in 2015.

“It’s a great feeling and I have been putting in a lot of hard effort in the camp,” said the all-rounder, who scored at least 50 in each of his six games en-route to finishing top run-scorer with 594 in last term’s Under-15 NSL.

“Training has been quite good and I feel over the last year, I’ve just grown as a player. The more matches I’ve played in, the more

experience I gained and I can’t wait to play for the UAE. The NSL is a great experience and it’s such an important tournament as it gave me a lot of exposure.”

All-rounder Lakra is the youngest in the camp at just 14, but has shown he is not afraid of competing against the big boys. He scored 115 runs and claimed 13 wickets altogether in the U-16 and U-19 inter-emirate tournaments.

“At 14, it feels great that my hard work has paid off and getting into the UAE U-19 team is awesome,” said Lakra. “This is the icing on the cake and will hopefully help me score more runs next season.”

Tandon also played in both age groups in the ECB event, scoring more than 100 runs. The trio will be captained by Yodhin Punja, who trained with the senior UAE team in the UK this month, with the ECB naming a well-balanced squad of pace and spin.

They face a stern test for the event, taking place from September 26 to October 8, having been drawn alongside Kuwait, Hong Kong, Thailand and Oman in Group B. The top two nations in the 10-team 50-over tournament will qualify for the knockout stages.

Waleed Bukhatir, ECB chief selector, is impressed by the talent in the squad. He said: “This will be a very challenging series of games, with all teams in our group evenly matched, (and) it is a very exciting time for these players to represent the UAE on the international stage at an integral qualifier on the calendar.”

The squad that will represent the UAE at the ICC U19 qualifying tournament is: 

Yodhin Punja (C) – Fast Bowler

Fahad Nawaz (VC) – Batsman/Right-arm offbreak

Sachin Jha (WK) – Batsman/Keeper

Salah Shakeel  – Right-arm offbreak/Batsman

Sushain Thapar – Batsman/Slow left-arm orthodox

Aryan Lakra – Batsman/ Slow left-arm orthodox

Mohd Ali Mirza – Batsman

Jonathan Figy – Batsman

Justin D’ Souza – Batsman

Ansh Tandon – Batsman

Karthik Meiyappan – Leg spinner

Krishna Lakhani – Fast Bowler/All Rounder

Shah Faisal – Fast Bowler

Ehtesham Siddique – Fast Bowler

Marlon Malcom – Fast Bowler

Rahul Bhatia – Left Arm Spinner

NSL Cricket season 3 will be returning in October. For more information or to register your school please contact [email protected] or phone +971 52 244 3906.

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Ocean Strikers reign supreme

Denzil Pinto 21/08/2016
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Organiser Tariq Butt (c) and Ocean Strikers’ captain Freddy Sidhwa (2nd l)

Ocean Strikers reigned supreme in the Pakistan Independence Day Cricket Cup, defeating Desert King Waterproofing by three wickets in a last-ball thriller.

In the seven-a-side tournament at the Ocean Fair Sports Club in Dubai, Desert King, batting first were all out for 54 in their five overs with Freddy Sidhwa finishing with figures of 1-10.

Despite a challenging total, Ocean Strikers had a tough time at the crease but still reached their target with Hussain Raza (16) and an unbeaten 14 from Shafaqat Ali seeing them home off the last ball.

There was even more reason to celebrate for Ocean Strikers, who enjoyed a clean sweep for the individual awards.

Ali was named best bowler of the tournament, while Zawar Hussain was given the top batsman accolade. Salman Randhawa was adjudged best player of the tournament.

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