The UAE will take on Singapore in their opening clash of the Asia Cup Qualifier next month as they bid to reach the main event on home soil.
Dougie Brown’s side is one of six teams vying in the league format tournament in Malaysia for the lone qualification berth for September’s showpiece event in the UAE.
The UAE open their campaign against the minnows at the UKM Oval on Wednesday, August 29 before facing their toughest test on paper against Nepal a day later. They will then face Hong Kong on Saturday, September 1 before playing Malaysia and Oman in their final two league games.
Should the UAE finish in the top-two of the league stage, they will then play in the final on September 6 where a place for the Asia Cup is up for grabs.
If they do prevail, then the national team will be drawn in the same group alongside India and Pakistan in the main 50-over tournament which will be held between September 15 to 28.
The UAE will be aiming to make it successive qualifications to the Asia Cup after stunning Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Oman to earn their place in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh. Although they lost all their games in the group stage exit, they won many plaudits for the way they played against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.
After missing out on qualifying for the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20, Subha Srinivasan is determined to help the UAE qualify for the 2022 edition even if it means she has to prolong her playing career into her 40s.
The all-rounder was part of the squad that finished seventh in the Qualifier tournament in Netherlands last week as Ireland and Bangladesh advanced to the showpiece event in the West Indies later this year.
It means the UAE will have to wait another four years if they want to showcase their skills on the world stage when the tournament is held in South Africa in 2018.
Srinivasan will be 42 by that time but instead of calling it quits now aged 38, she is eager to carry on playing and help make UAE history by playing in their first elite global competition.
“Most definitely I want to continue playing for a long time,” she said. “Being in your 30s and playing cricket is difficult but I still feel I have a lot to give and I want to get fitter when bowling and batting. I just want to perform consistently in every game I play.”
She added: “I had a 15-year playing career but executing everything is a very challenging task. Performing consistently is the key to success. I know age is catching up with me but at the same time, I have to stay fresh in my mindset and continue to work. I want to help the UAE reach a world competition and it would be great if I could help them do it before I retire.”
Srinivasan showed why she is a key member by taking seven wickets in five matches in Netherlands in a campaign where they defeated the hosts twice in a week.
They were beaten by Asian T20 champions Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea in the group stage before falling to Thailand in the play-offs. But despite the stern competition and playing on European wickets for the first time, she believes the tournament was great learning experience for her team-mates.
“It was really challenging and we have been exposed to a level where we know we have to work even harder,” she added. “We knew what level of competition it is and it was a reality check to see where UAE cricket stands and what areas we need to work on.”
India women’s star Veda Krishnamurthy hopes the BCCI can launch a women’s IPL by 2020 – a tournament that she believes will grow the game even further in the country.
The popularity of the women’s game in India is gradually increasing with last year’s World Cup performances in England before they were beaten by the hosts, having a major impact on the number of girls taking up the game.
The BCCI launched their inaugural Women’s T20 Challenge in May, ahead of the IPL Qualifier 1 clash between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad, which saw the likes of Krishnamurthy, several of her Indian team-mates and New Zealand and Australia women internationals take to the field at the Wankhede Stadium.
It was the closest thing to the IPL that Krishnamurthy and her fellow players have been involved in on home soil.
And the 25-year-old believes the BCCI must put all their resources together and follow Australia and England in launching their own T20 tournaments, with a domestic T20 league an obvious option to generate interest.
“The BCCI have been doing a lot of things from the time we have come under their wings and there has been a drastic change every year,” she told Sport360.
“We definitely know we have to do something really big for people to come and watch cricket. That was an important agenda when we went to the World Cup and after the tournament, we were glad that girls wanted to watch the game.
“The BCCI have taken it to the next level with the contracts and increasing the fees. I think the next step that the BCCI can do for us is to launch the women’s IPL by 2019 or 2020. If that starts, then it will be the biggest league in the world – bigger than the Big Bash and KIA Super League.”