Danube Test Series will prepare UAE for next year’s World Cup

Denzil Pinto 19/09/2014
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Fantastic preparation: Anis Sajan (l), Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq (centre l), Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development (centre r) and Rizwan Sajan (r).

Danube Test Series chief Anis Sajan hopes the competition can help domestic cricketers to improve their mental approach to the game, saying it will be good preparation for the UAE team ahead of next year's World Cup.

The second edition, to begin on December 17, will see nine 'A' Division teams take part in the two-day matches at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

And the two teams who reach the final will battle in a three-day final, for the first time, with the champions pocketing Dh100,000 and the runners-up Dh50,000.

Many of UAE's international players including Khurram Khan and Swapnil Patil will be playing for their domestic sides in the competition sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), and Sajan insists it can only be good for the game.

"The aim of the series is about knowing the temperament of a player which you cannot learn in Twenty20 which is generally played more often in the UAE," said Sajan.

"It will give them the exposure of two and three-day cricket and learning how to improve their batting and the required skills to bat for a longer period. Even in a 50-over game, teams get bowled out for inside the 50 overs and so by giving them the exposure for two-day and three-day cricket, it will build their temperament – mentally and physically.

Explaining the reason on changing the final to a three-day encounter, Sajan added: "In two days, it's not possible to complete two innings but in three days, it's possible to get a full outcome of the match."

With the UAE acquiring ODI status earlier this year thanks to the popularity of the shorter format in the country, Sajan acknowledges it will take some time to see the national players in white shirts.

He said: "Test status for the UAE is still very far away if I'm honest, but the series can develop the players and help them adapt to Tests because it's not an easy format to play – it requires patience and concentration."

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Khan urges UAE to finish tour on a high

Denzil Pinto 19/09/2014
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Convincing display: UAE beat Papua New Guinea by seven wickets on Thursday.

Captain Khurram Khan has urged his UAE team-mates to remain focused for the final two matches of their High Performance Programme (HPP).

On Thursday, the UAE comprehensively beat Papua New Guinea by seven wickets at Gardens Oval in Darwin, to register their second straight win of the HPP tour.

After Nasir Aziz (3-35) restricted Papua New Guinea to 267, half-centuries from Saqab Ali (73) and Swapnil Patil (72) helped the UAE chase the target with 10 balls remaining.

It was a strong batting performance by the UAE with all five batsmen reaching double figures under the watchful eye of recently-appointed batting coach Mudassar Khan.

Now the UAE face a double-header against Aussie outfit Redbacks – on Tuesday and Thursday – to complete their fixtures Down Under and Khan wants to finish on a high.

"The bowlers and the batsmen just have to stay calm and continue what they are doing," said the 43-year-old, who didn't bat in Thursday's victory after suffering a minor wrist injury when bowling.

"We have to learn and improve in each game as well as learning from our mistakes as we missed some run-out chances against Papua New Guinea. For sure it's going to be a much tougher game but we just need to keep sticking to our basics."

Having lost their opening two matches of the tour against Warriors in Perth, Khan had called for his batsmen to take more “responsibility” at the crease.

And he is happy that his team-mates appear to have taken his advice on board.

"It's very pleasing to have two wins in a row and now the batsmen have shown they are taking more responsibility,” he said.

“Amjad Ali looks like he's in a good form and it was good to see Swapnil Patil score the runs. It's very important to see batsmen scoring runs especially on different conditions. 

"We are now getting used to the conditions and to win the match in a convincing manner was very good as the total was hard to chase but the batsmen showed real maturity to maintain the run rate which saw us cross over the line."

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Fine fifties steer UAE to superb win over PNG

Barnaby Read 18/09/2014
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On fire: Amjad Ali now has two fifties in as many matches for the UAE.

An unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 147 from Swapnil Patel and Saqib Ali led the UAE to a comfortable seven wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in Darwin today.

Carrying on from their first win of the ICC High Performance Programme tour of Australia over Northern Territory yesterday, the UAE's batsmen made light work of a highly competitive PNG total of 267-7.

Patel (72 from 85 balls) and Saqib Ali (73 from 87) came together in the 21st over and remained at the crease to hit the winning runs and take the UAE to 271-3 with ten balls to spare.

Opening batsman Amjad Ali earlier hit his second fifty in as many matches to set the UAE up superbly in their run chase.

Ali, who made 69 against Northern Territory, was in imperious form once again. The 25-year-old left-hander's 56 coming at slightly better than a run-a-ball and included eight fours.

Mohammad Shahzad (24) and Andri Berenger (33) provided excellent support for Ali at the top of the order but when the latter was caught and bowled by Lega Siaka the UAE were in danger of floundering.

The UAE needed a calming infuence and from there on out Patel and Saqib Ali took control of the match and comfortably carried their team over the line.

Earlier in the day, the UAE bowlers suffered at the hands of Tony Ura (73) and Vani Morea (61). 

Morea's fifty was particulalry destructive, coming from 48 balls and including an impressive five sixes as Kamran Shazad 0-76) bore the brunt of some huge hitting from the 21-year-old.

Nasir Aziz fared far better than Shazad and was the pick of the UAE bowlers, picking up three wickets from his 10 overs at a cost of 35 runs.

The UAE's final two games of the tour come against South Australia on September 23 and 25 at the same venue.

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