Chirag Suri has vowed to raise his game and score “big runs” for the UAE in their matches against Namibia despite being satisfied with his performances against Netherlands.
Suri, 22, has retained his place in the 14-man squad for next month’s matches against the African outfit after scoring 25 runs in the triumphant 2-1 50-over series tour against Netherlands in July.
It means the batsman will have another chance to prove his potential when the UAE take on Namibia in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup from September 16-19, as well as the two 50-over World Cricket League matches later that month.
And while he’s wary of the stern competition he faces, he is adamant to deliver whenever his opportunity comes.
“I was satisfied over there (in Netherlands) but I still want to be getting more runs,” said Suri, who was bought by Gujarat Lions in this year’s IPL auction.
“ I think being satisfied means you just hold back and be happy with what you got but I don’t think like that. I’m always happy with what I’ve got. I’m still happy with what I did there. It was rainy conditions and hard to score but I still want to do more and score the big runs for the UAE.”
If Suri does line up for the I-Cup game at Windhoek’s Wanderers Cricket Ground, he would be making his first-class debut.
It would be a big step up to a format he’s relatively unknown in, having played various T20 and 50-over matches. But it’s a challenge he’s ready to embrace.
“Obviously, the biggest challenge is the longest format because it’s the biggest test in today’s game,” said the former U-19 player. “You want to prove yourself in that level and if I do play, I’ll be making my first-class debut and want to get a couple of good scores.
“The amount of four-day cricket that we play in the UAE is negligible. Obviously, it’s not something that comes naturally to us and the coaches have really been putting the emphasis of staying as long as we can on the wicket. I want to be playing all three formats for the UAE so want to cement my place in the four-day side although it won’t be easy.”
The team will step up their preparations next Monday by flying to Pretoria for a 12-day training camp at Cricket South Africa High Performance Centre and in Windhoek.
Head coach Dougie Brown has already underlined the importance of that camp considering the matches in the Namibian capital will be played 5,600 feet above sea level.
And Suri is sure that will have a big impact on the whole team. “We have a very good preparation camp which is very exciting and very good opportunity for the boys to get used to the conditions,” he said.
“In Dubai, we have been practicing a lot and South Africa will be great to nuture the skills before then producing the goods against Namibia.”
Head coach Dougie Brown believes the UAE’s preparation camp in South Africa and Namibia will be even more crucial considering his players will have to adapt to playing in a high altitude environment.
The national team will tour Namibia next month for a four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup match beginning September 16 as well as two 50-over games in the World Cricket League on September 21 and 23.
To ensure they are in the best possible shape for those encounters, the coaching staff and the 14-man squad will fly to Pretoria next Monday for a 12-day camp split between Cricket South Africa High Performance Centre, and then Windhoek in Namibia.
With Windhoek’s Wanderers Cricket Ground, which will host the three matches, located approximately 5,600 feet above sea level, Brown is aware of the task ahead but is confident it will only aide his team’s preparations.
“It’s going to be enormous for us,” said the 47-year-old. “A lot of the guys have never played there in Windhoek before and that’s around 6,000 feet above sea level.
“If you’ve been in that environment for any period of time, then you’ll understand exactly the impact of what they would be doing when you’re doing anything physical.
“We are going to Pretoria to begin with and that has altitude as well but not as high as Windhoek. Those preparations will be really important, not just from a cricket perspective but form a physiological perspective.
“It’s getting the guys used to being in an environment they’re not used to but it will be really good. Once we get to Namibia, that’s when the preparation really starts and it’s about winning matches.
“Everything that we have done so far, is in preparation for that. But when we get to Namibia, that’s when it really starts to begin.”
Three successful UAE-based businessmen, including the co-owner of UAE Royals, have joined hands to purchase a team that will compete in the inaugural Ten Cricket League (TCL) in Sharjah later this year.
Brothers Anis and Rizwan Sajan, owners of Danube and Neelesh Bhatnagar, managing director of NB Ventures and co-owner of UAE Royals, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) franchise, have bought a team, which will be named Gujarat Tigers.
Their announcement came less than 24 hours after reports emerged of the tournament on Wednesday evening.
According to various outlets, the 10-over competition will run from December 21-24 at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium and will see the likes of Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi in action over 90 minutes.
Shaji Ul-Mulk, president of TCL, confirmed to Sport360° that a press conference will be announced later to reveal further details.
For Anis, who is described as ‘Mr Cricket’ of the UAE, due to his passion for the sport as well as owning successful UAE teams Danube Tigers and Danube Lions, and Masters Champions League outfit Sagittarius Strikers, he is thrilled to be back in the game.
“We thought a name like Gujarat Tigers would be good because the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is from Gujarat and that’s why we preferred to choose that city,” explained Anis, who will also mentor the Indian cricket team during next month’s Indoor World Cup in Dubai.
“I’m really happy to be a co-owner of the team because this is a new format. When T20 was first launched, people were not sure how successful it would become and look at it now.”
Bhatnagar, says the opportunity to co-own a sports team was one he could not turn down. “I co-own the UAE Royals in the International Premier Tennis League and this will be the second team I’ll be co-owning and am really exciting with this new venture,” he said.
While Bhatnagar and Anis have both expressed their desire to sign blistering batsman Gayle during the draft, the latter believes the competition has the potential to exceed expectations.
“If this tournament is pulled off well and there’s crowd and there is the right kind of players playing, this is going to be a tournament like the big football leagues that are all over the world,” he said.
“It will be a super tournament and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the other countries start launching their own competitions. I think this will take UAE to another level.”