Rameez Shahzad 1-1685638673133
Rameez Shehzad scored an unbeaten half-century against Canada in the World Cup Qualifier Playoffs in Namibia. Image Credit: Source: ICC Twitter

Dubai: Rameez Shahzad is one of UAE’s early products of home-grown talents and the middle order batter has reinvented himself after returning to the national team following a five-year break.

The middle-order batter, who began his career as a 50-over specialist is looking to be more aggressive as he gets ready for the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe later this month. And before that assignment, the 35-year-old will have to be at his best for the three-match One-Day Internationals against the West Indies, beginning on Sunday.

Aggressive game

“Lot of franchise leagues that started across the world have increased the scoring rate. Back in those days 220 runs would be a winning target in a 50-over game and in T20, 150 would be a competitive target. These days, with the kind of wickets, which usually support the batters, you have to be very aggressive and my game has become a bit different now, I have to be a bit aggressive now as well. I have to evolve with the game,” said Shahzad, who made his UAE debut against Scotland in 2016 at Edinburg.

It was not easy for Shahzad, who was away in Europe, when he returned to the UAE set up this year, but one stark reality that he faced was the number of youngsters in the team, which he feels is a refreshing change.

Rameez Shahzad celebrates with Rohan Mustafa and Vriitya Aravind during the Playoffs. Image Credit: Source: ICC Twitter

Difference in age group

“We put a lot of hard yards and I am glad with the kind of trust the management had in me, even though I wasn’t there at that point. The good thing is that I see a lot of young faces in the team, back in those days the average age of the UAE team was in the 30s and the likes of Aayan Khan and Ali Naser, another youngster to watch out for, have brought the age limit down drastically,” added Shahzad, whose father Shahzad Altaf had played for UAE against South Africa in the 1996 World Cup in Rawalpindi.

“Back in those days we had players coming from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India who will go on to represent UAE, but if you see, kids are now coming through our own set up, which is really good to see and the academies are doing their job. The ECB leagues under-16 and under-19 are a good platform as well.”

Best chance for UAE

The batter is looking forward to the World Cup Qualifiers, which he feels is the best chance for UAE to cement their place among the elites.

“I am glad that we retained our ODI status and qualified for the Qualifiers and we would love to face Sri Lanka and the squad we have is really good. Our aim is to be a full-member nation and that’s pretty clear. Facing the likes of Sri Lanka and Ireland is just a way forward. It is a good chance to start our journey and make into the World Cup,” said Shahzad, who feels the Emirates D50 tournament has given the UAE players the opportunity to get to the right frame of mind ahead of the crucial Qualifier.

“For us 50 overs is the most important tournament, something that we have to play. Some three, four years ago, it was all about T20 and the 50-over matches give a completely different platform. You need to understand the technique, temperament and how to rotate the strike and lot of things. Glad that the D50 has started, which gives us the chance to gain invaluable experience,” he concluded.