UAE captain Mohammad Naveed is on a high after leading his team to a 4-0 T20 series sweep in Netherlands and credited new batting coach Monty Desai for making an immediate and positive impact.
The UAE got the better of Associate cricket heavyweights Netherlands at Amstelveen and The Hague, defending and chasing successfully twice.
The star performer of the series for the UAE was opener Ashfaq Ahmed who hit three fifties in four games and even took a wicket in the final match.
Other players too put their hands up when the team needed them, like former skipper Rohan Mustafa who picked up eight wickets across three matches.
All in all, it was a clinical effort from the UAE as they defended targets of 182 and 153, while chasing down 137 and 151 successfully.
Captain Naveed lauded the collective effort of the team and singled out Ashfaq’s consistency and the all-round potential of debutant Zawar Farid.
“Our goal was to go and win against a top Associate team; we just swept them. The conditions suited them but each member of our team performed when given a chance,” Naveed told Sport360.
“Ashfaq made it a one-man show. Zawar was outstanding. He can play anywhere. Zawar can open the batting, play in the middle or lower order. He can open the bowling and bowl with the old ball. If you ask me, I will say I want him. He can play in any conditions.”
One big difference this time was the team’s batting, which didn’t falter under pressure batting first or second. And that, Naveed said, was down to the sensible and precise work put in by new batting coach Monty Desai in the short space of time he has been associated with the team.
Desai has worked with teams like Zimbabwe, Nepal, Afghanistan and Canada while also being an important part of IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Lions. Desai was confirmed as UAE batting coach earlier this month and Naveed credited him for making an immediate impact.
“Our new coach, Monty… the boys have benefited from him greatly. Batting was our problem, our bowling was always strong. Monty has fine-tuned the game of the batsmen and the players have responded very well. Next week our camps starts and he will work more on the batsmen,” the seam-bowling skipper said.
“He is sensible and has worked with some big teams. He knows what the boys need, when and where to train, what type of shots to hit. The feedback from the batsmen is very good.”
What fills Naveed with even more pride is that the team has bounced back from off-field issues late last year that led to the brief suspension of three players and resulted in a change of captaincy.
“After the changes in team and captaincy, the boys have come together and the results are improving. It is a good sign that our players are so skilled that we can sweep a side like Netherlands,” Naveed concluded.
UAE’s next big assignment is the World T20 qualifiers in the country in October. Following the unfortunate suspension of Zimbabwe cricket, chances of UAE have automatically improved and the results against the Dutch are a massive boost.