Coach Aaqib Javed has revealed that all-rounder Asif Iqbal will make his UAE debut in today’s three-day friendly game against Scotland.
The 32-year-old, recently qualified to represent the UAE earlier this year, has been in fine form for his domestic club Danube Lions.
After impressing in training sessions in Dubai and Hampshire, UK, Javed is confident he can excel on the international stage.
“Asif’s a very mature player and he’s been doing really well recently in the domestic circuit,” said Javed.
“He looks like a very compact player and he will bring a lot to the team by how he bowls and bats.”
Iqbal will open the innings alongside Amjad Ali and Javed has a fully-fit squad, led by Mohammad Tauqir, to choose from, despite the absence of Khurram Khan – who will travel to the UK later this week.
Today’s game at the Ageas Bowl in Hampshire will help the players prepare for their first-round ICC I-Cup from June 2 to 5, and Javed is pleased with his team’s training efforts after voicing his concerns in adjusting to English conditions last week.
“We’ve had some good sessions and it was crucial for the batsmen to know the pitch conditions,” said the 42-year-old.
“The practice sessions have been a huge difference so far. The pitches in the UK hold a bit of moisture and there is a bit of a sideways movement.
“The players are focused on playing the ball straight and they are beginning to understand that they have to sacrifice things when they play on these type of tracks, meaning there’s no cover drives and waiting for the ball to come to you. Overall they are making good adjustments.”
Scotland will have a squad mixed with youth and experience which also features promising spinner Mark Watt and opener Andrew Umeed.
Despite the changes, Javed – whose side will be playing their first game in the longer format since the 158-run win over Namibia in September 2013 – is wary of the threats posed by Preston Mommsen’s side.
He said: “If you look at Scotland recently they have got a quite experienced batting line-up and they’ve done really well in the last couple of four-day competitions.
“They’ve made a few changes but I think they are better batting than bowling. Their batting is the main strength and we will look to put some pressure on them.
“If we win the toss, we will put them in and try to bowl them out around 250 and then force a good total and put them under pressure.”
He added: “This game is definitely huge for us. Not many of our players have played in the UK and it’s a mind game for them, which will help us for the Ireland match.”
Speaking to Sport360, UAE captain Mohammad Tauqir says his side's World Cup exploits have helped spread the word of the game among Emiratis.
UAE coach Aaqib Javed believes adjusting to conditions in the UK will be his side’s biggest challenge ahead of their departure on Friday for the first-round Intercontinental Cup clash against Ireland.
The sides meet in Malahide in the four-day match from June 2-5 in the ICC’s premier first-class tournament.
While some of the players will experience UK conditions for the first time, Javed insists their daily training sessions and the three-day friendly game against Scotland (May 26-28) will give them enough time to adjust to the conditions.
“We have used fresh pitches and tried to pick the best conditions suitable in UK conditions during our training sessions,” he said.
“It’s not possible to play in these conditions all the time. Yet, we have got a couple of days to settle down before the Ireland game. I think we will be all right.”
— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) May 18, 2015
Among the 14-man squad are uncapped Asif Iqbal and veteran Saqib Ali. And Javed is impressed by what he saw of the pair.
“Asif is good and he has been very consistent and done well in the two-day Danube Test,” he said. “Saqib Ali is very good in the longer format.”
The UAE’s last four-day encounter came in September 2013 with a 158-run win over Namibia, and the ex-Pakistan spinner believes it will not be easy for his players to change their mentality from the shorter to longer format.
He said: “Four-day cricket is all about patience and concentration. It’s not easy for batsmen to shift their mindset from T20 to four-day cricket, but that is what we’ve been trying to achieve.”