More than a decade after seeing his dream of representing the UAE senior team dashed, Umar Shah is grateful to be given another chance at this week’s Indoor Cricket World Cup.
Shah, 31, played for the outdoor national team at the Under-19 Asia Cup qualifiers in Pakistan way back in 2003 and soon set his sights on being part of the senior team one day.
However, those hopes were over just 12 months later when he injured his knee while fielding during a domestic game in Dubai.
That saw him ruled out for almost two years but having underwent rehabilitation, he got back into the game in 2006 – playing indoor cricket with Danube Tigers as well as the outdoor version with Fly Emirates.
There was no recall to the national outdoor team since then but an opportunity came knocking when the UAE were awarded the rights to host the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Dubai’s InSportz Club.
He beat more than 50 hopefuls to be selected in the 12-man squad and Shah wants to make the most of his opportunity, having admitted he never thought he would play for the UAE again after his knee injury.
“It really has been an emotional journey for me,” said Shah. “To have suffered that knee injury was heartbreaking and it was very disappointing especially as I didn’t play the game for a long time.
“It was a tough time for me and my family to be honest. I could only watch cricket and would’ve loved to have played but I just couldn’t because of the injury.”
He added: “I had a feeling my chance of playing for the UAE was gone but I’m very grateful that InSportz Club and the Emriates Cricket Board has given me an opportunity to play for the UAE again.”
While he still plays the outdoor game occasionally, he feels the indoor game has helped him enhance his all-round game.
“This is something that I play regularly especially as you can play after work with your friends,” he said.
“It’s fast-paced action which is good and I’m really happy to be part of the first UAE side to be playing in the Indoor Cricket World Cup. I’m really happy to wear the UAE colours again and hope we can do well.”
Budding cricketers in the UAE will have a chance to pick the brains of former Indian international Robin Singh on a regular basis after he confirmed he will open his new academy in Dubai.
The RS Sports Academy, which is under Zenith Sports Academy LLC, a new sports management overseen by Singh, will officially launch later this month. Singh, 53, who is CEO of his academy, brings a vast amount of experience, having scored more than 2,000 runs in his 136 ODIs.
He is also the batting coach for the Mumbai Indians, having been the head coach while he will also take charge Bloem City Blazers in the South African T20 Global League.
“It has been one of my dreams to set up something in Dubai especially in the coaching front,” said Singh, who will be based in Dubai.
“I want to provide the platform for aspiring kids for this part of the world and pursue their passion and dreams. I want to give them equal opportunity like any other sports person around the globe and unfortunately, most of the young cricketers in the Associate countries don’t really see the opportunity available. I want to show them the path and want to take this to the other level.”
Cricketers will have the opportunity to tour various Test-playing countries, while also have the opportunity to train with international cricketers and coaches through the academy’s tie ups in places like Hong Kong, South Africa, Caribbean and India.
“RS Sports Academy will employ technology and video analytics used by international teams to assist the coaches,” added Singh. “The academy is in advanced talks to launch at five to six schools in Dubai and will look to tie up with another three-four schools by the end of the year.”
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