UAE international Chirag Suri has embarked upon a mission to take U19 cricket in the country to the next level with the launch of the Front Foot Sports CSE Rising Stars tournament.
The UAE team made the country proud in April by qualifying for the U19 World Cup in South Africa next year. With the aim of providing an even more vibrant atmosphere for budding cricketers in the UAE, Suri held a trial camp for up-and-coming cricketers at his academy – Front Foot Sports – earlier this month and the response he received has filled him with confidence.
“There were around 100 kids at the trials. The response has been terrific, but this is just the first step,” Suri told Sport360.
“I wanted to have a very competitive tournament. Our U19 players are getting to play against big teams, with the help of the Emirates Cricket Board. But I also want them to play the longer version of the game.
“So we are having this tournament which is of 40 overs. Each team will have one overseas player; from Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It will give players a different level of exposure.”
There will be four teams in the competition, the dates of which are yet to be decided. The sides will be coached by Suri, Obaid Hameed – tournament director, and former UAE captain Khurram Khan.
Apart from exposure to high quality cricket, top players in the tournament will get contracts from kit manufacturers Spartan Sports and DSC. Not only that, the best player will go to India for a 10-day high performance camp at Axel Sports Academy in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Members of the UAE U19 team also took part in the trials with Suri keen on having the very best in the country vying for spots.
“We are going to finalise the tournament dates in August as the UAE U19 team will be playing in the Asia Cup. So I want to make the sure all players are available.
“Members of the UAE U19 team were also part of the trials. We wanted every single person to attend. They are the cream of UAE U19, so it was good to have all of them there. We presented a small memento to the team for qualifying for the U19 World Cup,” Suri added.
Among those who will feature in the tournament, as part of the overseas contingent, is Pakistan A and PSL pacer Ghulam Mudassar. Suri is also hoping to rope in Nepal batsman Rohit Paudel – the youngest batsman in history to hit an ODI fifty.
UAE had a bruising tour of Zimbabwe, where they were blanked 4-0 in the ODI series last week, but captain Mohammad Naveed remained upbeat despite the setbacks.
It was a historic series for the UAE as they were playing their first-ever bilateral ODI series against a full Test nation. However, rain-affected fixtures and tough conditions saw UAE lose all four matches.
In the first ODI in Harare, UAE were shot out for 110, going down by seven wickets, In the second match, Naveed’s team managed 169-9 and the hosts reached the revised target of 182 off the last ball of the innings.
The third ODI was a one-sided affair with Zimbabwe posting 307-4 while UAE could only muster 176. The fourth and final ODI was again a rain-affected clash with UAE dismissed for 175, while Zimbabwe lost seven wickets chasing the revised target of 128.
According to Naveed, heavy rain before the start of the series meant there was excessive moisture in the pitch which gave extra advantage to the team bowling first.
“The first game was basically decided by toss as it had rained for two, three days. They won the toss and bowled first, so the wicket was very difficult. Our batsmen couldn’t adjust in time,” Naveed told Sport360.
“After that, we came back very well in the remaining matches. Our batsmen couldn’t perform well – apart from Shaiman Anwar. We dropped catches as well. We tried to motivate the players, asked the players to learn from the mistakes. But the batsmen played quite badly because of which we lost,” the skipper added.
Naveed said fielding was also below standard but believed the issues are not glaring and was confident of turning things around in a couple of months.
“If you look after the first match, we played well. Overall, our batting and fielding was disappointing,” he added.
“We have a few issues but they aren’t very major. I am sure we can recover in a couple of months. We are working on our mistakes.”
Naveed said the emphasis of the team is not not get bogged down by the defeats as they were playing an established cricket nation.
“Our coaches – especially Dougie Brown – have worked very hard on our game. The players were told to concentrate on the positives and not fear defeat. But unfortunately it didn’t work. I am confident we will cover up in two to three months,” the seamer added.
UAE’s major assignment this year is the 2020 World T20 qualifier which they will host towards the end of the year.
There was good news for UAE cricket fans as the junior team qualified for the 2020 U19 World Cup after emerging as Asian champions in the qualifiers in Malaysia.
Led by Aryan Lakra, UAE comfortably defeated Oman by 10 wickets at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur to top the Asian qualifiers with five wins out of five and make it to the U19 showpiece event in South Africa next year.
In the clash against Oman, Lakra led the way with the ball and bat, first snaring 3-27 with his left-arm spin to help bowl out Oman for a paltry 105 and then finishing the case off with an unbeaten 51 as UAE reached the target in the 13th over.
Off-spinner Rishabh Mukherjee took three wickets each as well while opening seamer Akasha Tahir and Karthik Meiyappan took two each to help dismiss Oman in the 44th over.
The target was never going to bother the UAE with openers Lakra (51* off 45 balls) and Syed Haider (56* off 28) sealing a straightforward win.
Lakra was named ‘player of the match’ for the third consecutive game and was also declared ‘player of the series’. The left-handed batsman finished with 120 runs from five games along with 13 wickets from his left-arm spin. Off-spinner Muhammad Farazuddin was the other top performer for the UAE finishing with 10 wickets in the tournament.
The U19 World Cup will be held in South Africa in January-February next year. It is the second time the UAE have qualified for the tournament after hosting the 2014 edition.
An all-round performance from skipper Aryan Lakra – a fifty and three wickets – helped @EmiratesCricket qualify for ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 in South Africa.— ICC (@ICC) April 19, 2019
The 17-year-old was also adjudged Player of the Series. 👏 pic.twitter.com/oD70a6ZUxX