SPO 230926 Chaya Mughal CE012-1695743917999
UAE women's cricket team captain Chaya Mughal gets a warm send-off from her teammates and opponents at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Emotions ran high at the Dubai International Stadium as UAE skipper Chaya Mughal signed off on her illustrious career, that too on a winning note, in the first match of the Twenty20 International against Namibia on Tuesday.

“Thanks to Emirates Cricket Board for giving me the opportunity to play against strong teams. It was a dream come true for me to play for UAE since 2015 and getting to face strong teams like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We were just one step away from playing in the World Cup,” said the 37-year-old Jammu and Kashmir-born all-rounder. “This was my best moment so far. And then playing in the Asia Cup against India is something that I will always cherish and will remain very close to my heart.”

Hosts UAE scored a competitive 100 for seven in 20 overs with majority of the contributions coming from opener Theertha Satish. The left-hander carried her bat through to remain unbeaten on 54 off 53 balls on a wicket that had plenty of assistance to the bowlers. The double-paced pitch had bounce and had enough grip on the surface to the spinners.

Tight bowling

In reply, Namibia’s chase was stifled by tight bowling by the UAE bowlers. The Namibian batters found it hard to penetrate the field on a thick outfield, but they did the mistake of not rotating their strikes in the early part of the innings.

Down 17 for two in the fifth over, Namibia’s skipper Irene van Zyl and Wilka Mwaaite managed to score just 30 runs in eight overs that took the match away from their grasp. Late efforts from the rest of the batters were not enough to take them past the line to lose by 19 runs.

UAE Chaya and Vishnave mahesh-1695743921406
UAE players celebrate a Namibian wicket during first T20 International at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. Image Credit: Supplied

'Feels great to contribute'

Teenager Theertha, who played her 50th Twenty20 International match, expressed happiness with her effort, scoring her eighth half-century in 47 innings. “It feels great to contribute to the teams’ cause. I was glad it came today and, hopefully, I will be able to do it as time goes on as well. The Namibian bowlers were good and it was fun to face them on a wicket where the ball was stopping and coming on to the bat initially, which made it a bit difficult and there was turn as well. Once you get your eye in, then it became a bit easy,” said Theertha, who managed to stitch together useful contributions all the way to the end when UAE were losing wickets at regular intervals.

On playing under Chaya, Theertha added: “Chaya has been my captain since my debut. She handed over the UAE cap to me. This being her 50th match as captain, I was honoured to have played under her and it is exciting to see the change in captaincy and see how Esha is going to take it forward.”

Fellow opener Esha Oza will be leading UAE in the reminder of the six-match series, the second of which will be held on Wednesday.

It might not have been the best performance by Chaya, but the UAE veteran ensured that she signed off on a high by getting a wicket in the final over.