SPO 220922 UAE Team CE014-1664032611169
The UAE Cricket team practice at the ICC academy. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: UAE’s newly appointed skipper CP Rizwan firmly believes that if one is sincere, the game surely will reward in return at the appropriate time. With this belief, and backed by some skilled players, the young UAE team are taking their first step in preparation for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup with a two-match SkyExch Friendship Series against Bangladesh at the Dubai International Stadium, beginning on Sunday.

“It’s a big moment for the guys to play against top opponents like Bangladesh. So we want to make a mark and carry on the momentum to the World Cup,” Rizwan said in an exclusive interview with the Gulf News ahead of the first match of the series.

Not worried

After failing to qualify for the Asia Cup held in the UAE, 34-year-old Rizwan is not too worried about the missed opportunity and feels that the team’s focus is now firmly on doing well in the World Cup and for that he is keeping it simple. “It’s huge honour for me to lead the UAE in the World Cup. We have to focus on one match at a time and not look too far ahead. We trying to do things that are in our hand,” he said.

UAE captain CP Rizwan

UAE captain CP Rizwan

The skipper is backed by a squad that has the right mix of experience and some very good home-grown young talents, who have graduated from the UAE junior ranks. “We have a good squad with a lot of match-winners, who on their day could win the match on their own. We are gelling quite well in the matches and looking forward to the upcoming task,” Rizwan added.

The high-flying UAE will face plenty of big challenges ahead. They are on Group A with Sri Lanka, Namibia and Netherlands in Round One of the World Cup, to begin in Australia on October 16. But the skipper feels the team is not overtly concerned by the opponents, but focus more on their own skills and game plan.

“We know we are in a strong group and Sri Lanka is one of the best teams. But we have to focus on our own strengths and try to execute our skills better than worrying about our opponents. Yes, we analyse their strengths for planning, but we are not concerned about the opponent teams and give our best shot,” Rizwan said on the team’s philosophy while approaching a match or a tournament.

Robin Singh, Director of Cricket, Emirates Cricket Board and the coach of the team echoed Rizwan’s sentiments.

All about winning

“Every team is beatable in T20 on their given day, so you should believe in yourself. It’s all about belief and trust and backing your ability to get through it. If you can get those things right, then all other things will fall into place. That’s why these two games against Bangladesh become extremely important for us to understand where we stand. We are not going there to play Bangladesh, we want to win against Bangladesh. It’s all about winning from here onwards,” said the former India all-rounder.

SPO 220922 UAE Team CE007-1664032607670
Robin Singh, Director of Cricket, Emirates Cricket Board and UAE coach. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

While the team is buzzing with excitement, it is also a big opportunity for the young talents like Vriitya Aravind, the vice-captain of the team, Aayan Khan, Karthik Meiyappan and Aryan Lakra, to name a few, to showcase their skills against Bangladesh and further cement their spots in the World Cup.

“Aayan Khan, who is hardly 17, is way into the World Cup squad. It’s just a start of the many great things for the UAE cricket. You can walk into the squad if you are good enough, he is a prime example of that. Vriitya, the vice-captain, is hardly 21. A very young side ready to achieve big deeds in the future,” concluded a confident UAE skipper.