Shadeep Silva from the UAE in action as UAE again Namibia at the ICC Intercontinental Cup match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Sharjah: What was the common factor behind the UAE bowling out Namibia for 39 and 80 in the two International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) matches at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium recently? On both occasions, it was left-arm spinner Shadeep Silva who put the brakes early on by removing Namibia’s top-order batsmen.

In the first match, Silva bagged the wickets of Namibia’s first three batsmen and in the second he removed their opener and one-drop batsmen in a flash. His early wickets put pressure on the middle-order batsmen and allowed the rest of the spinners in the team to wreck Namibia’s innings. Silva’s speciality is openening the bowling with the new ball.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Silva spoke about how he has provided early breakthrough repeatedly for UAE. “I have been opening the bowling for UAE since 2011,” he said. “I am able to use the shine of the ball effectively to push the ball quickly through to the batsmen. The shine helps the ball race into the batsmen and often traps them leg before. With guidance from coach Aquib Javed, I have learned to even turn the ball with the shine on and also generate bounce off my deliveries.”

Silva opens the bowling in not only one-dayers and Twenty20 but also in four-day Intercontinental matches. He trapped the first three Namibian batsmen leg before. In domestic cricket, he is among the highest wicket takers and bagged the Shyam Bhatia annual award for the best bowler.

When asked about how he has consistently managed to give the early breakthroughs, Silva said: “Coach Javed has told me that my role is to pick early wickets and I am happy I have managed it. I have been getting wickets maybe because I bowl with a dream of playing for the UAE in the World Cup.”

Born in Galle, Silva had played for Bloomfield Cricket Club in Sri Lanka. “I played alongside Test players like Roshan Mahanama and Kumar Dharmasena,” he said. “I came to Abu Dhabi in 2002 and played for New Medical Centre. I always wanted to bowl the UAE into the World Cup giving my best. I am now looking forward to the oncoming World Twenty20 qualifiers.”

Silva, who is been employed by Emirates Flight Catering, added: “The support from Emirates Flight Catering has boosted my career as they have been providing me with enough time to play the game and pursue my dreams. Since I am with the Emirates Group, I now represent the Fly Emirates team.”

Silva is now just three short of the 50-wicket mark in List A matches and two short of 25 wickets in first-class cricket.

“I am improving every day as a bowler due to tips from Javed while I am getting fitter under the guidance of physiotherapist Chitrala Sudhaker,” said the 35-year-old, who is also an effective lower-order batsman. “My aim is to bag 100 wickets for UAE.

“I am working hard to improve my batting too. Since I play in all three formats, being a good all-rounder can be hugely useful for the team.”