UAE's Mohammad Naveed can't wait to play in Afghanistan Premier League

Denzil Pinto 11/09/2018
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Raring to go: Mohammad Naveed

UAE pacer Mohammad Naveed has described his selection in the Afghanistan Premier League as one of his biggest achievements after being picked in Monday’s draft.

Naveed, 31, was drafted by Kandahar for the inaugural edition which will take place in Sharjah between October 5 and 21.

It will be his first major T20 tournament and Naveed is looking forward to testing himself against the elite next month.

“It is a big moment for me,” said Naveed. “It’s fantastic news because the Afghanistan Premier League is a very big league and has some of the world’s best players. I’m very excited and it’s a proud moment to be among the players who will be featuring in the tournament.”

Naveed was one of 18 players drafted in Dubai’s glittering draft ceremony and the UAE international will be sharing a dressing room with some of the world’s best players including former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz and English duo Sam Billings and Tymal Mills.

Naveed, who had been following the draft on social media, cannot wait to meet his new team-mates – especially McCullum.

“He’s (McCullum) one of the biggest names in world cricket who has scored so many runs at the highest level,” added Naveed. “He’s one of the batsmen I love to watch, while playing alongside Wahab Riaz is a dream for me. Being around these players will surely boost my game in becoming a better player.”

Despite a number of UAE internationals making themselves available for the draft, Naveed was the only one to be chosen and he expressed his disappointment that his other team-mates were overlooked.

“I’m a bit sad there won’t be other UAE players featuring because I feel we are all talented cricketers who can perform at the highest level,” he added. “I am more determined to give my best and make the UAE proud.”

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UAE captain Rohan Mustafa says Hong Kong loss is 'most painful' of his international career

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Hurting: Rohan Mustafa

Captain Rohan Mustafa has described the loss to Hong Kong which denied the UAE qualification to the Asia Cup as his ‘most painful defeat of his career’.

The UAE were beaten by two wickets in a rain-hit Asia Cup Qualifier final in Malaysia on Thursday which ended their dream of playing glamorous ties against Pakistan and India on home soil later this month.

Having made his debut in 2007, captain Mustafa has experienced the ups and downs of being part of the national set-up and insists the latest loss was one of the lowest of his international career.

“For me, it was the most painful defeat in my career,” said the 29-year-old. “We are hurting but it’s part of the game. The guys were really emotional especially the youngsters but it’s part of the game because sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I’m confident we will practice hard next time and come back hard again.”

Having arrived back from Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Mustafa says despite failing for the Asia Cup, he reflects back on the Qualifier tournament with plenty of positives.

“Over the last 10 days, the team performance was very good. We played really well against Oman and won four out of six matches,” added the all-rounder.

“We should have qualified for the tournament since it was held in the UAE and it would have been a good opportunity for us to showcase our talent to the world. We are disappointed but still we will watch the games. We wish Hong Kong the best of luck because we want them to perform well.”

Opening batsmen Chirag Suri (220) and Ashfaq Ahmed (224) finished as the top two run-scorers in the tournament while Ahmed Raza was named man of the series after taking 16 wickets.

Mustafa praised those players as well as the experience that Rahul Bhatia and Fahad Nawaz gained.

“We brought in two youngsters on the tour which is very encouraging and they have learnt a lot from that,” added Mustafa. “Suri did a great job and that’s a big positive because he has a long career ahead of him and can be one of the best batsman. Even Ashfaq did a good job as well as Raza with the ball.”

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Dougie Brown expects his players to bounce back strongly after missing out on Asia Cup qualification

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Disappointed but proud: Dougie Brown

Head coach Dougie Brown was ‘gutted’ that the UAE missed out on qualification for the Asia Cup on home soil but has backed his players to bounce back strongly.

The UAE will have to watch the likes of Pakistan and India instead of facing them after Hong Kong beat them by two wickets in Thursday’s final to claim the lone berth for the main stage.

Brown’s troops scored 176-9 in an innings which started as a 50-over encounter before it was reduced to 24 overs due to rain. That score was largely thanks to aggressive batting from Ashfaq Ahmed’s 79 as well as quick-fire hitting from the rest of the team as UAE scored 114 runs in less than nine overs.

However, Hong Kong reached their revised target of 179 with three balls to spare to book dream ties with Pakistan and India in Group A later this month.

Despite the result, Brown was proud of his players’ efforts but questioned the Duckworth-Lewis method after only two runs were added for Hong Kong’s target.

“Am pretty gutted about the outcome,” said the 48-year-old.  “The rain intervened at inappropriate times. To get where we got to was an outstanding effort by the batsmen and to score around a hundred runs in the last eight overs was a phenomenal effort. Hong Kong took the game to us and every time they did a mistake, it went into their favour. It was one of those days where it didn’t go our way.

“Just a two-run adjustment was added to the score after spending so long in our innings in a 24-over game. I thought this was the kind of thing that the Duckworth-Lewis method was meant to avoid and is hasn’t. Yet, we did really well considering things went against us and we deserve a lot of credit for that.”

He added: “Having said that, we can compete and have got a team of guys who will give everything when they need to do. That is one of the biggest changes that I have seen as UAE coach and I cannot talk more highly of the players for the way they played their cricket in this tournament.

“I can tell you we are hungry and I expect them to react in a positive way to everything as this moment (of missing out) is something we do not want to suffer again.”

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