*Red Bull athlete Chirag Suri is an Indian-born Emirati cricketer. In an exclusive interview with Sport360° he reflects on his own achievements in 2018 – including getting his first 100 for the UAE and getting engaged.
I feel I’m in a zone where I’m playing well so there’s no better way to finish the year – especially as I was back home in Delhi recently, where I was actually getting engaged.
This year has been very, very busy. I haven’t had time for myself. I’ve been really caught up with organising everything.
I’m a very positive person so I always reflect on the positive things. I got my first 100 for the UAE this year, then I was the highest run scorer in the Asia Cup qualifier so that was a highlight of the year. I put in a few good T20 performances too in Kuwait and the Asia T20 qualifier so overall it’s been a really good year.
You know when you’re playing well or not playing well. We finished off with the T10 too and that was good, so it’s been a good year.
We’ve played in ODIs, I made my T20 debut against Australia so I feel these are landmark events in a career.
The amount of opportunity we’ve had this year has been amazing. The board is doing a great job. It was great it all came together this year. Full credit goes to the board, I think they’re doing a great job, the coaches and selectors and I’m just really happy and want to continue putting in consistent performances.
It’s very exciting looking ahead to 2019. There’s a lot of cricket ahead, the potential qualification for the T20 World Cup. We start playing the ODIs, we’re playing Nepal in January and then five ODI series so I’m excited and I’m just looking forward to it all.
This year has also been great with Red Bull. I’ve got to meet a lot of cool people and interact with a lots of sports people due to Red Bull. It’s amazing to know the journey of other athletes because you see common elements.
I’ve seen that and realise I’ve got a lot to learn. Because I used to feel I was the only one grinding it out and going through all these hardships and downs before you go uphill. But I’ve spoken to so many other guys who had the same picture. They received rejection before and that’s how they’ve come up.
I’d like to thank Red Bull for all the exposure they’ve given me from all parts of the world and all different athletes, from sky divers, jump specialists, cyclists. We were at the F1 so it’s been amazing and they’re great to be associated with.
Special mention to Daqa, athlete manager, he’s always checking on me to see if I need anything.
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa and two other players were suspended from international cricket for eight weeks by the Emirates Cricket Board for their outburst on social media over playing conditions during the Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Pakistan.
Mustafa, Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad were suspended by the ECB, fined and warned about their conduct.
The UAE were close to qualification for the semi-finals of the tournament in Karachi earlier this month. However, rain ruined their chances in the final pool match against Hong Kong. Apparently, it was a brief spell of shower that rendered the ground unplayable after water seeped through the covers .
Later on, the players took to Twitter to express their anger. Mustafa blamed the poor facility at the Southend Stadium for the team’s predicament while Raza lambasted the ‘club level covers’. A win for UAE would have boosted their chances of a semi-final spot. However, Bangladesh defeated Pakistan to move ahead of UAE and qualify for the semis.
Later, the players deleted the tweets and apologised for their statements, thanking the Pakistan board for hosting the UAE team.
In a statement, the UAE board said: “Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad, had violated its Code of Conduct and requirements for the use of social media. As a result, each of the players have been suspended from international cricket for a period of eight weeks, fined and warned about their future conduct. ECB wishes to make clear that it takes the conduct and discipline of its players very seriously, and will not make any further comment on this matter.”
UAE will be participating in the Emerging Teams Asia Cup, which will be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka starting December 6.
Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan and Oman are the other teams that are participating in the tournament which is being organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). India will be playing all its games in Sri Lanka.
For the UAE team members, who originally hail from Pakistan, it’s a momentous occasion as they prepare for their first match against Bangladesh in Karachi on December 6.
“The boys are excited. We are from Pakistan and playing in Pakistan will be great,” captain Mustafa told Sport360 on Sunday.
“We will be playing there after a long time. We will try our best to qualify for the semi-finals and travel to Sri Lanka. I have played in Karachi but that tour was almost eight years ago. It will be great playing for UAE in Karachi.”
The UAE team will travel to Pakistan on December 4 and have a practice session the next day before their opening match. UAE’s Indian origin batsman Chirag Suri won’t be travelling to Pakistan due to personal reasons. All-rounder Fahad Nawaz has been selected as his replacement.
Full member nations like India and Pakistan will be fielding mainly Under-23 players in the tournament while the UAE and Oman are sending their senior squads. Mustafa said he is looking forward to playing in front of his home crowd, and hopefully a few friends.
“I have a few friends in Karachi and they will come to watch us play. They played cricket in UAE with me and they have played first-class cricket in Karachi as well,” the 30-year-old said.
Meanwhile, Emirates Cricket Board spokesperson Zayed Abbas said the board is satisfied with the security arrangements in place in Pakistan.
International cricket had deserted the south Asian nation following the attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in 2009. However the cricketing world is slowly returning to Pakistan, with Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the West Indies among nations to visit the country in the last three years.
Abbas stated he has been to Pakistan himself twice in the last year and believes the country has done a lot in an effort to host international cricket again.
“Pakistan has been following strict security procedures. I have attended two events in Pakistan in the last year. I attended an ACC meeting. I also went there during a development committee meeting, which was held during the Pakistan-Sri Lanka T20 in last October,” Abbas said.
“The process of sending the team is the same. In this case also, the procedure has been the same as any other ACC or ICC event.”