It might have only been a practice match but UAE skipper Saqib Nazir believes their victory over New Zealand has given them the belief they are capable of beating the best at the Indoor Cricket World Cup.
With just a few days to go until the tournament begins at InSportz Club in Dubai on Saturday, the UAE gave themselves a big boost by defeating New Zealand 81-75 in their first practice match on Monday night.
The victory was impressive considering that the Kiwis have finished runners-up in the World Cup six times of the nine editions including the 2014 defeat to champions Australia.
Vikrant Shetty, who once played for the outdoor UAE side, was one of the players to shine by scoring 20 runs and taking two wickets.
The two sides will meet again in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday and Nazir says the win is proof they can compete at this level.
“That is a big boost for us,” said the 42-year-old batsman. “It has given us confidence that we can compete. After beating New Zealand, the guys are really taking it positively and we are charged up for the tournament.”
Despite the victory, which did not see former New Zealand international Jesse Ryder in action, Nazir still feels there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“There’s still a lot to do,” he said. “If you saw yesterday, we made a lot of blunders in bowling. But the batting was perfect and it was something that we planned.
“During the bowling and fielding, there’s plenty to improve on because we made a lot of mistakes. We gave around 25 runs just in the form of extras. That can easily be put down to 10 or 15 runs. We have spoken as a team on that aspect and we just want to keep on working hard and hopefully everything will be fine during the tournament.”
Having trained with the team regularly for the last three weeks, Nazir cannot wait to lead the team out in the global competition.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me,” he said. “It will be the first time that the UAE will be competing in a Indoor World Cup. It’s one of the biggest events in the game and I’m really privileged and honoured to be the captain of this UAE team.”
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) September 11, 2017