T20 World Cup Qualifier: Skipper Ahmad Raza adamant that morale is still high despite UAE's crushing loss to Oman

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The UAE skipper remains defiant. Image credit - ICC.

The UAE’s campaign in the 2020 T20I World Cup Qualifier started with a defeat in Abu Dhabi with the hosts made to pay for a shoddy batting effort by Oman in a seven-wicket loss.

The provisional suspension of three key players, including captain Mohammed Naveed, for match-fixing had rocked the hosts in the lead up to the tournament, but newly elected skipper Ahmed Raza insists that he has the right men to complete the job in the Qualifier.

“I am very happy with the squad I have and I am very happy with the playing XI I picked today. I am going to back them throughout the tournament and I am going to back every single person who was in that dressing room today,” Raza stated after the loss at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

A horror-start with the bat cost the team dearly in their Group B-campaign opener with the early loss of three wickets putting them on the back-foot straightaway. All-rounder Rohan Mustafa, Rameez Shahzad and Muhammad Usman attempted to repair the damage in the middle overs, but their low scoring-rate did the side no favours.

Ultimately, the hosts could muster just a paltry 108-9 in their 20 overs after being made to bat first. But the UAE skipper refused to pin the blame on the middle-order batsmen.

“Look if you lose three wickets in the first six overs, the batsmen coming in are going to bat like that. It is just that the partnership (Mustafa-Shahzad) did not kick on and that is why we are talking about it,” explained Raza.

UAE outplayed in all departments. Image credit - ICC.

UAE outplayed in all departments. Image credit – ICC.

“It was the same partnership which won us the game against Scotland in the warm-up. When you lose three quick wickets in the powerplay, that is how you expect any batsman to bat. You can’t go all guns blazing at that stage and get all out in 15 overs.”

Raza’s Oman counterpart Zeeshan Maqsood was delighted with the winning start generated by his men and he expects UAE to respond positively to Friday’s loss.

“We know the UAE can play better (than Friday’s clash). They are a good team and have plenty of experience,” the winning skipper stated.

The hosts have no time to mop with games coming in thick and fast in the World Cup Qualifier. They will be in action once again on Saturday in Abu Dhabi against a formidable Ireland side who started their campaign with an emphatic win over Hong Kong.

Raza believes the lack of gap days between matches is a boon for his side after a comprehensive loss in the campaign opener.

“I think it is better that they (games) are coming so thick and fast. You don’t want to have two to three days off after a loss. It is good that we can put today’s performance aside and begin again tomorrow,” he stated.

The morale, Raza insists, remains high in the team dressing room despite the recent controversies and loss to Oman.

“The morale is high, it’s a global event after all. We just have to move on from a loss, we still have five more games to look forward to. In a global event, you never know what is going to happen. But you also don’t want to peak right at the start of the tournament,” the UAE skipper concluded.

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