UAE's Mohammad Naveed aiming to claim the wicket of David Warner at the Global T20 Canada tournament

Denzil Pinto 23/06/2018
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Mohammad Naveed will depart for Canada this week.

UAE pacer Mohammad Naveed has set himself an ambitious target of being the top wicket-taker and taking the scalp of David Warner at the upcoming Global T20 Canada tournament.

Naveed, 31, will line up alongside West Indies’ World Twenty20-winning captain Darren Sammy and ex-Australia captain Steve Smith for Toronto Nationals in the inaugural competition, which begins on Thursday, after being one of four UAE players to be selected through the draft earlier this month.

He joins UAE skipper Rohan Mustafa at Toronto while Shaiman Anwar and Ahmed Raza are part of the Edmonton Royals’ squad.

The tournament has attracted some of the biggest names in cricket, including Chris Gayle, Smith and Warner, while the bowling talent is equally impressive with Tim Southee, Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine and Sandeep Lamichhane all on the list.

But despite strong competition in the bowling department, Naveed, who has taken 36 wickets in 27 T20 matches, is dreaming of claiming the personal accolade.

“The target that I want to achieve is to win the best bowler award in the tournament,” said Naveed, who will depart for Canada on Monday. “Today that is what I want. Of course it will be very difficult but I have great confidence that I can do well in Canada over a series of matches.”

Naveed has established himself as one of the best bowlers in Associate cricket with Shahid Afridi and Gayle two of his highest-profile victims in the last six months.

With both playing in the same tournament, there’s every chance he could replicate that feat but the pacer wants to add Warner to his list.

“I have got the wicket of Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle before so my target now is to get David Warner,” he said. “He is a fantastic players and he is one of the best batsmen in the world. He’s a very aggressive player and those type of batsmen I enjoy taking wickets.”

It will be Warner’s first appearance since the ball-tampering scandal that rocked the sport during the third Test between South Africa and Australia in March. He was subsequently stripped of his vice-captaincy role and given a 12-month ban along with Smith in international and state cricket.

But despite the punishment, Naveed insists he will have no issue shaking the hand of Warner when the teams meet in Canada.

“For me, it’s no issue because he’s one of the best batsmen. He did a mistake and he’s accepted that. Now he is moving on from that chapter,” he said.

When Naveed does join his team-mates, he will be reunited with Sammy for the third time in two years. The two played at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz with Sammy praising the UAE star and they were later team-mates at the T10 League in December for Bengal Tigers.

Naveed says he can’t wait to link up with Sammy again this week. “I have been in regular contact with Darren Sammy since that tournament and we message all the time. He has always said that he will do his best to get me a deal with one of the teams and I’m very happy to be on the same team”

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UAE women's coach Murali Sockalingam insists there's still room for improvement ahead of World T20 Qualifier

Denzil Pinto 19/06/2018
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Humaira Tasneem (c) will lead the UAE in Netherlands

Coach Murali Sockalingam is pleased with how the UAE played during Ramadan but stressed there’s still still a lot of work to do before they open their Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier campaign in Netherlands next month.

The national team tested themselves against boys’ Under-16 sides during the Holy month and despite not having all their players available, they pushed their opponents all the way but were unable to register a win.

During the same period, the side also played a touring team from Sri Lanka in a game organised by the Emirates Cricket Board. This time they fared much better, winning two of the four matches they played.

Reflecting back on the past month, Sockalingam insists the matches were a great learning curve to see where they stand ahead of their opening game against hosts Netherlands on July 7.

“It was a good way for the players to test themselves,” he said. “We have a squad where people are working and studying so it’s very difficult to get us altogether for a training camp. So match experience is the best way to get the team together. It was a good thing for the girls to get some experience.

“We gained a lot from these games. We wanted them to test their bowling and batting and just get as much confidence as they can before the tournament.  I won’t say that we are there 100 per cent yet but there’s still areas to improve on.

“We have given the players and the team their own goals to work on we’ll see how it goes.”

The team will depart for Netherlands at the end of the month with three warm-up matches before they take on the hosts. Sockalingam is convinced by the time they face the Dutch the side will be ‘in a better position’.

“We will be playing three practice games there and that will be a good test for us. By the time we finish that, we’ll be in a much better position,” he added.

The UAE will be aiming to claim one of the two available berths for November’s showpiece in the West Indies.

Along with the Netherlands, they have been drawn alongside Asian champions Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. The week-long event also features Scotland, Ireland, Uganda and Thailand.

One player who will not be featuring in Netherlands is former captain Natasha Michael. The all-rounder was left out of the squad as she steps up her recovery from a niggling back injury.

Current skipper Humaira Tasneem says it’s disappointing for Natasha to miss out but vowed to give their best.

“Obviously, it’s pretty upsetting to see that happen,” said Tasneem. “She’s been part of the team since day one when the UAE played their very first game in 2007. She was there for the qualifiers where we made history. It was pretty upsetting to hear that she won’t be competing but we want to do well in this tournament for her and the UAE who have always been supporting us.”

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Humaira Tasneem says Bangladesh's Asia Cup title win will inspire UAE in World Twenty20 Qualifier

Denzil Pinto 16/06/2018
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Captain: Humaira Tasneem

Humaira Tasneem believes Bangladesh’s shock T20 Asia Cup win will inspire the UAE that they can cause upsets of their own in next month’s Women’s World T20 Qualifier.

The UAE have been drawn alongside the newly-crowned Asian champions, hosts Netherlands and Papua New Guinea in the eight-team tournament with the top two qualifying November’s showpiece in the West Indies.

With Scotland, Ireland, Thailand and Uganda also featuring, the UAE face a tough task of advancing but they will be encouraged by Bangladesh’s performance in Malaysia last week.

The Tigers defied the odds to beat six-time defending champions India by three wickets in a thrilling last-ball finish to win their maiden title. It was the second victory over India after beating them in the group stage.

UAE captain Tasneem was following the tournament closely from Dubai and insists Bangladesh’s win proves that anything is possible when it comes to match day.

“We are all keeping an eye on how Bangladesh fared in the Asia Cup and it’s really good they won the tournament,” said the spinner.

“T20 is a game that on the day, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. So I think we can beat the likes of India and Australia if we go into the match with our plans and strategies. Every player has to give their ultimate best on that day. Bangladesh had a really good tournament over there and the UAE can have one too. Nobody has seen us play so we are ready to surprise everyone.”

The UAE have regularly tested themselves against Asian opposition with the Netherlands tournament their second ICC competition following their pre-qualifiers in November. It will be the first time they will face European nations and Tasneem believes the opposition needing to do their homework on her team could work in their favour.

“Teams will only have seen highlights on the internet about us and we have some new players that have come in,” she said. “We have experience and youngsters who will all put in a collective effort and give their best in the tournament.”

The UAE have been stepping up their preparations for the qualifiers which runs from July 7 to 14,

In preparation for the qualifiers, which runs from July 7 to 14, the UAE competed in Ramadan tournaments as well as a touring Sri Lanka team, which was organised by the Emirates Cricket Board.

Tasneem said that was a good opportunity to experiment with the squad as well as getting vital match practice.

“We needed these kind of matches before the tournament,” she said. “Other nations like Australia would have training camps but we don’t have that.

“The last couple of weeks have been really good and we used all the batters and bowlers and gave them a try so they can get some match practice ahead of the tournament. We can do as much practice in the nets but whatever we have learnt can only come through matches that we play.”

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