The UAE women’s team left for Amsterdam on Thursday for their participation at the World Twenty20 Global Qualifier.
Led by captain Humaira Tasneem, the 14-person squad departed Dubai airport in the afternoon a week early before they open their campaign against hosts Netherlands on July 7.
As well as the Dutch, they have been drawn alongside newly-crowned Asian champions Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea with the tournament also featuring Scotland, Ireland, Thailand and Uganda.
Only two teams will reach the World Twenty20 in the West Indies later this year. For the UAE, it will be the second-ever ICC tournament after they booked their Netherlands berth through the Asia Qualifiers back in November.
Before they take on the Dutch, they will play a warm-up game against Uganda on July 5.
UAE squad: Humaira Tasneem (Captain); Chamani Senevirathne; Chaya Mughal; Esha Oza; Heena Hotchandani; Ishni Senavirathna; Judit Cleetus (Wicketkeeper); Kavisha Kumari; Namita Dsouza; Neha Sharma; Nisha Ali; Roopa Nagaraj; Subha Srinivasan and Udeni Kuruppuarachchi. Sockalingam Vairamoorthy (coach)
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.
The most consistent performer of @EmiratesCricket; @iamnaveedUae holds the spot of the top 10th bowler in @ICC rankings and he can prove to be a crucial bowler in @GT20Canada .He is selected in @darensammy88's team #TorontoNationals#DealMakers#TeamICA pic.twitter.com/nUgKBwPq0n— ICA (@ICAssociation) June 5, 2018
“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”
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.”
So very excited for our #UAE #Women, who will be competing in the @ICC #Women's T20 GLOBAL Qualifiers in July.— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) May 17, 2018
Check out the squad 👉 https://t.co/BbZzQmHgMo#GirlsRock! #GoUAE @ANIBDXB @tykasports @ICCAcademy pic.twitter.com/Ull6moAt5g
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.”