Ravichandran Ashwin's Dubai masterclass sessions an opportunity to learn from the best

Denzil Pinto 14/02/2018
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The spin of art: Ravichandran Ashwin (right)

Budding cricketers in the UAE will have a chance to pick the brains of India star Ravichandran Ashwin during a special master class session in Dubai this weekend.

The 30-year-old will be passing on his knowledge and expertise to the youngsters on Friday and Saturday at Gen-Next Kings’ Cricket Academy, which partnered with his own Gen-Next Cricket Academy in Chennai.

It will not be the first time he will be teaching the UAE’s stars of tomorrow after he held a similar masterclass during the official launch in October.

A key player of the national team, Ashwin has plenty of experience. In 214 international matches,  he has taken 513 wickets as well as 26 five-wicket hauls, while scoring nearly 3,000 runs.

This weekend’s classes are open for aspiring players of other abilities and Russell Sissing, head coach at Gen-Next Kings’ Cricket Academy is convinced there are plenty of reasons on why kids should join.

“It really is a huge privilege to have someone like Ravichandran Ashwin come to Dubai and offer some masterclasses,” said the South African.

“It’s a chance for kids to get up close to an international star. Every cricketer has a story and not only will he share his tips to the players, it’s a chance to understand what preparations international cricketers do for matches.”

He added: “Ravi Ashwin is a world-class player who has had an immense career so far and will offer a lot of insight on what is needed to enhance their game.”

Registration costs Dh450 per person. Classes on Friday will be 17:00 to 19:00 and Saturday from 09:30 to 12:30. Both will be held at Kings’ School Al Barsha, where the academy is situated.

For more information, contact Derick D’Souza at 055 719 7615.

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UAE will play their A game in must-win match against Namibia, says Ahmed Raza

Denzil Pinto 13/02/2018
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Ahmed Raza insists the UAE cannot afford to play any other way but their ‘A game’ if they want to beat hosts Namibia and reach next month’s World Cup Qualifier.

The national team enter their final group game knowing victory against the hosts on Wednesday will secure a top-two finish in the tournament and most importantly a place in the final 2019 World Cup qualifying competition in Zimbabwe.

Even if they win, they could be denied if the clash between Canada and Nepal, the top two sides with six points each in the competition, is abandoned or tied.

But Raza says the UAE must concentrate on themselves and focus on achieving their objective of progressing to the qualifying round next month.

“We know the consequences and know the pressure and it’s a game that is big for us,” said Raza, who took 2-16 in the 46-run victory against Oman on Monday.

“We just have to go out there and play our A game. It’s a big game that we have to win and we just have to go out there are do our job.”

Wednesday’s clash will be the fifth time the UAE and Namibia have met in the last 13 months. The UAE triumphed in last January’s Desert T20 before coming out on top in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup in September. They then followed it up with a loss and win in the 50-over game.

The match for Namibia will be even more significant after their eight-wicket triumph on Tuesday – a result that put them second in the standings.

“We have got a decent record against Namibia and it’s about applying the pressure to them – just like how we did against Oman,” he said. “It’s all about working in pairs and in working in partnerships. We know the job we need to do and will do everything we can to win the game.”

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Bowlers impress as UAE keep slim World Cup hopes alive with victory over Oman

Denzil Pinto 12/02/2018
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Vital knock: Ghulam Shabbir.

The UAE kept their slim hopes of reaching next month’s World Cup Qualifiers alive after their bowlers delivered in style to pull off an unlikely 46-run victory against Oman.

With successive losses to Canada and Nepal, the UAE entered their World Cricket League Division Two clash against their Gulf neighbours knowing nothing but victory would do if they wanted to still be in contention of claiming the top two qualifying spots.

They duly delivered with their bowlers saving the national team after the batsmen struggled again with a total score of 159 despite Ghulam Shabbir’s 63-run effort.

Imran Haider (3-31) and Mohammad Naveed (3-8) were the two to do the most damage as Oman suffered a remarkable batting collapse. At 93-4 at the half-way stage, they appeared to be cruising but the UAE hit back, claiming five wickets for 12 runs.

For spinner Haider, he was happy to have played his role with the ball in a significant victory.

“Obviously to win a match is a special feeling but the way we bounced back and defended a small total was very satisfying,” said the 30-year-old. “I’m delighted to have played an excellent game and I hope we can go on and become stronger from now on.”

For captain Rohan Mustafa, he had nothing but praise for his bowlers. “The way that we came back was excellent and Mohammad Naveed and Imran Haider bowled extremely well,” said the 29-year-old all-rounder. “The wicket wasn’t easy to play on and we gave our wickets away. I’m really happy with how our bowlers bowled.”

Despite years of representing the national team, he was thrilled to have been on the winning side in one of the “most pressurised” games he has played in.

“It was a match where there was a lot of pressure,” Mustafa added. “It wasn’t a type of match that I had played before. But I’m happy to have won because the last two games were very disappointing.”

The result puts the UAE in third position, two points behind Nepal who stay in second following a last-ball three-wicket win over Kenya on Monday. Canada still remain top of the standings with six points despite a shock 17-run defeat to Namibia.

The UAE take on hosts Namibia on Wednesday where victory is essential if they want to reach the Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Head coach Dougie Brown will be hoping for a better batting performance against Namibia with three of their top six batsmen reaching double figures against Oman.

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