Although he found himself on the losing side, Adnan Mufti could not have asked for a better debut when he first represented the UAE in December 2016.
The 32-year-old showed no signs of nerves at the Dubai International Stadium, scoring a superb 69 runs against a strong England Lions team but his heroics could not save his new team from a 16-run and 3-0 series loss.
Seven months on, the batsman is now an established member of the squad, having made the cut in every series this year. As a lower-order batsman, he’s played a total of nine matches but is yet to score another half-century for his new adopted nation.
And the former Rawalpindi first-class cricketer is desperate to end that wait beginning with the three-match 50-over series against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Monday.
“I want to score as many runs and play the full innings and score at least two half-centuries and make a difference,” vowed Mufti ahead of the team’s departure to the Dutch capital on Wednesday morning.
“Whatever the situation is, I want to make a difference. It’s going to be my first opportunity to play in European conditions and I want to bat until the end of the innings and help the team reach a big total that we can defend.
“I have good memories of my last half-century for the UAE. While we lost the match, I knew from that very moment I had taken a big step in cementing my UAE spot.”
Excellent first day's training in The Netherlands 🇳🇱
The UAE 🇦🇪 team looking sharp & focused.
Bring on day 2! 🏏
— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) July 13, 2017
Prior to that debut, his domestic performances for Danube Lions meant he was on the radar of the UAE team but could not feature until he completed his four-year residence as per ICC rules.
During that period, he sent out another reminder of his potential, batting the full day and scoring an impressive unbeaten 70 in a friendly two-day match between Danube and the UAE in latter 2015.
His opponents included current skipper Rohan Mustafa, spinner Ahmed Raza and pacer Mohammed Naveed, who all got a first-hand look of him at the crease.
“It was nice to score against the UAE because some of the players as well as Aaqib Javed (former coach) asked how many months I had before I could become eligible to play,” recalled the Bukhatir XI player. “I was later drafted in a trialists squad before representing the UAE.”
He added: “It feels great to be a UAE player because many of my team-mates like Rohan and Naveed told the selectors to give me a chance, which I’m grateful for. Now I want to play an important role in UAE cricket and play well to help us win as many games as possible.”