Dubai: Asif Khan wore a huge smile during a UAE training session at the ICC Academy on Wednesday. The 33-year-old was all set to make his T20I debut after being named in the 16-member UAE squad for the three-match series against New Zealand. Given his recent form in the ODI World Cup Qualifiers, it was a no-brainer that the aggressive batter made it to the list after having top scored with 203 runs including an unbeaten 151 against the USA.
“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to play against a Test-playing nation,” Asif Khan told Gulf News. “I will give it my best and help my team do well. If I’m able to do it, it will be a matter of great pride to me,” he added.
Only in March Asif Khan had smashed the fourth-fastest ODI century when he hit an unbeaten 45-ball 102 and then followed it up with the fastest century scorer from an Associate nation hitting an 84-ball 103 against the US.
“I play according to the requirement of the team. I have been given the gift of power hitting and at any point I can take charge and hit big shots. So I try to play according to the situation and I am happy I’m able to take advantage of my strength especially when power hitting is required at the last few overs of a game,” he added.
Asif Khan said the focus will remain the same while playing against New Zealand and the team was up for the challenge. “While playing against Test nation it will be a big challenge for us. We are very confident. We have trained hard for this had fitness sessions, which I believe will help us put up a good show.”
The UAE cricketer further added that good performances in such series can help boost their confidence “When we play against big teams like New Zealand our performances will get highlighted on a global scale.
“This is a big series ahead of the Gulf Cup [to be held in Oman] and World Cup Qualifiers. I feel this is good preparation ahead of those key tournaments. We will strive to get a momentum going, gel further as a team, and hopefully qualify for the World Cup as well,” he said.
Mohammad Waseem will make his T20I captaincy debut while 22-year-old all-rounder Mohammed Faraazuddin and 19-year-old left-arm spinner Jash Giyanani have got their maiden call-ups for the series.
Mohammad Waseem said; “It is a very good opportunity for us. I am giving all the credit to our board, Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), for arranging all the facilities, especially as we are playing against a Test nation. If we are playing good against this team, it will be good for ECB as well. Yes, I will try my best as lead my team from the front. Actually, I do not have any pressure, to be honest, as I performed in the 50-over format.”
The spectators have been given a free entry to the stadium for all the three-match series that begin at 6pm.
UAE squad: Mohammad Waseem (captain), Ali Naseer, Ansh Tandon, Aryansh Sharma, Asif Khan, Aayan Afzal Khan, Basil Hameed, Ethan D’Souza, Faraazuddin, Jash Giyanani, Junaid Siddique, Lovepreet Singh, Mohammad Jawadullah, Sanchit Sharma, Vriitya Aravind and Zahoor Khan.
Series schedule: UAE v New Zealand
August 17: First T20I, 6pm, Dubai International Stadium
August 19: Second T20I, 6pm, Dubai International Stadium
August 20: Third T20I, 6pm, Dubai International Stadium