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The UAE cricket team are ready to take on the best in the Under-19 World Cup, which begins on January 14 in the West Indies. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The UAE have laid down the marker with a dominating 250-run win over Papua New Guinea in the warm-up match and the team’s assistant coach is confident that an upset is on the cards in the Under-19 World Cup.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Najeeb Amar said: “We are confident and ready for the World Cup with the boys getting the much-needed experience in the Asia Cup last month. You can expect an upset in the World Cup.”

The UAE, despite not winning a single game, did well against top teams like India, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Asia Cup at home. They took off from where they left off against Papua New Guinea in Basseterre with opener Kai Smith extending his impressive form with a belligerent 145 that set the tone for UAE’s big win.

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Put in to bat on a difficult conditions, Smith plundered 19 fours and a six and put on 72-run partnership with Shival Bawa and 133 with Dhruv Parashar (55), and 77 with Punya Mehra (41) to give UAE a mammoth total of 321 for five in 50 overs.

In reply, PNG were bundled out for 71 in 28 overs with Peter Karoho (14) and Christopher Kilapat (27) being the major contributors. Aayan Khan finished with figures of three for 10.

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The conditions in the West Indies are far too different to the one at home for the UAE players. But they are getting used to the pitch and wind that are causing some concerns. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Speaking about the team’s preparedness for the World Cup, skipper Alishan Sharafu said the team is excited to be part of the global event.

“The conditions are quite challenging. We had a few sessions and have learnt to know how to handle these wickets and windy conditions,” said Sharafu, one of the key players in the UAE ranks. “We are ready for the showpiece and this exciting bunch of boys are hungry to do well.”

The UAE are in Group A with Bangladesh, Canada and England and face Canada in the opener on January 15. Before the start of the Asia Cup, the UAE didn’t have any meaningful match practice, which was a cause for concern for the UAE team management.

Talking about the positives of the Asia Cup campaign, Amar said: “Skill-wise UAE players are equal to India or Pakistan, but what is lacking is the exposure in the 50-over format. They are at least 15 games short.

“In the Asia Cup, from the first to the last, the boys progressed well and ticked all the boxes. They have now realised the demands of the 50-over format and they are ready for the World Cup,” he concluded.