Basil Hameed celebrates his half century during the match-winning knock for UAE against Scotland Image Credit: ICC

Dubai: The UAE’s newcomer Basil Hameed hogged the limelight through his consistency in the ICC Cricket World Cup Men’s League 2 series last week. Making his international debut with 25 runs against the United States, he bettered it with another fighting knock of 38 amid the team’s successive defeats and then went on to hit an unbeaten 63 in his third match to ensure a seven-wicket win over Scotland and bag the man of the match award.

The tale of 27-year-old Hameed is a touching one. He carried his dream to play international cricket to the UAE despite having to leave his state in India to earn a livelihood after playing at all stages in junior cricket. “I came to UAE four years ago after having represented Kerala at Under-17, to Under-25 and after being picked for the Kerala Ranji Trophy team camp. I came to Dubai to earn a livelihood to feed my family at home, who backed me in my studies. Despite cricket, I did my masters in business management. I had the dream to continue the process of cricket. In four years here, I performed consistently and thanks Al Nabooda Insurance Brokers (ANIB), they employed me and I played for their team and performed well.”

ANIB, who are also the main sponsors of the UAE team, also employed UAE pacer Zahoor Khan and their team ANIB XI On Top plays in domestic tournaments. “I performed consistently for ANIB XI On Top and won the Man of the Series in the recent Sharjah Cup. In Kerala I was moulded by coach P. Balachandran, who told me to follow the process of cricket and enjoy the game whenever I play, while ANIB coach Mohsin Arif groomed me by instilling confidence in me. I am thankful to Rajagopal Sukumar (MD, ANIB), who gave me time from my work and a platform to perform,” said Hameed, who works as Assistant Manager in Sales.

Hameed now wants to better his cricket knowledge by playing against bigger talent in international cricket. “I am pleased that in my first series I won the man of the match ensuring UAE a victory. I have picked up my first international wicket too with my off spin.”

For the UAE team, who are reeling following bans for their top players, Hameed’s arrival is a huge relief.