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The UAE players have been on a roll this year, earning the qualification for the Twenty20 World Cup and now in a tight race for the 50-over World Cup. Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB

Dubai: The UAE need to stay focused and play a tight game in Scotland as they return to action in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 qualifiers also involving USA in the top of the table clash beginning in Aberdeen on Wednesday.

“Scotland are a good team in favourable conditions and they are far better than we do, as they are familiar with the conditions. Having said that UAE have a well-balanced side to tackle them here and most of the guys are looking good,” Robin Singh, Director of Cricket, Emirates Cricket, told Gulf News from Scotland. “The key is to stay focused, stay in the zone and play tight cricket, we are looking forward to the challenge.”

The UAE are entering a golden period, starting with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 clash against Scotland and USA, which will be followed by the Asia Cup qualifiers against Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong. Should they qualify for the main draw, which in all probability they will do, UAE then will face the five Test-playing nations on their own backyard, which will be a good testing ground for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in Australia in October-November.

But the UAE players have not played a competitive game since the US-leg of the qualifiers in Texas in May-June, where the Ahmed Raza team had mixed fortunes by losing the first two games and then winning the last two.

Robin Singh felt that the two-month gap had caught the team on the wrong foot in the initial games as the reasons for the loss. The UAE are in a similar situation this time too against the same opponents as they have not played a competitive game since early June. However, Robin Singh is wary of the misstep and cautioned the players to start on a positive note.

Robin Singh

Excellent preparations

“We had excellent preparations in the UAE in spite of the heat, we are getting back into the competition after playing in the US, so it’s important to start on a very good note,” added the former Indian all-rounder.

The UAE have the right mix to come good in any conditions with Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique and Kashif Daud have been doing a magnificent job on difficult conditions and have held themselves well in a gruelling schedule during which the UAE had played almost 20 games in a two-month period earlier in this year.

Muhammed Wasim, Chiraj Suri, Basil Hameed and Rohan Mustafa have shouldered the batting responsibilities well during the earlier games. The biggest difference this year has been the young Vriitya Aravind, who likes to express himself without any restrain depending on the circumstances.

The 19-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, one of the products of UAE cricket, has been rewarded for his consistent performance with an additional responsibility as the vice-captain of the team, a move that will carry the UAE team forward.

UAE teenager Vriitya Aravind, who has been in impressive form this year including a century against USA in Texas in June this year, has been given the added responsibility as the vice-captain of the team. Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB

Oman top the table while Scotland, UAE and USA occupy the next three spots. Hence these four games between are important for UAE to stay in the race and not give their close rivals any leeway towards the finish line.

Big challenge

Scottish conditions offer a big challenge to the UAE players, where the dampness in the air allows the ball to swing right through the day. However, to familiarise with the conditions, the UAE team had reached Scotland a week in advance and have played a few practice games where all the players got the chance to get to grips with the conditions.

“It’s good that we came a week earlier as the conditions were very different to the ones we are used to. It was damp at times and wickets seams about in the morning while things get a little better in the afternoon,” felt Robin Singh, who has played a lot in UK conditions. “There is always something for the bowlers on these surfaces, with plenty of grass.

“While batting, you are never really 100 per cent sure on these pitches, so it is critical to play tight cricket and give yourself a good chance of staying in the crease for long, ensuring you are never overconfident. I think we did a fair job of getting used to the conditions,” Robin Singh concluded.