Dubai: UAE Under-19 cricket team skipper Aryan Lakra, who inspired the team to qualify for the 2019 Asia Cup Under-19 tournament and the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup by bagging the Player of the Tournament in both the qualifying tournaments, attributed his team’s historic feat to playing like champions.
The continental showpiece will be held in Sri Lanka during July-August 2019 while the Under-19 World Cup to be held in South Africa in 2020.
Speaking to Gulf News after UAE recorded an emphatic 90-run victory over Kuwait in the final of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Western Region Under-19 tournament at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday and also becoming the first team to qualify for two major tournaments in one year, Lakra said: “It’s a great feeling to win another international tournament within a span of one month. We are happy that we could earn this unprecedented honour for the UAE. Credit goes to the team as we played like champions and came out as champions.”
Last month, UAE had qualified for the colts’ World Cup by winning the ICC Asia Under-19 World Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur.
The UAE extended their unbeaten streak from Kuala Lumpur to the UAE and will play against Test playing nations like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.
“These victories mean a lot to us. We gelled well and everyone backed each other. We are now going to play against the big boys and it is a great opportunity to showcase our talent against top cricketing nations,” added Lakra.
In the ACC final, UAE won the match through a deadly four-wicket spell from Karthik Palaniapan Meiyappan and half centuries from opener Syed Haider and Vriitya Aravind.
UAE posted 231 for seven through Haider, who top scored with 57 runs and Aravind, who cracked 53 runs. Lakra chipped in with 25 runs and had put on a 69 runs opening partnership with Haider. Ansh Tandon scored 38 runs while Mohammad Faraazuddin hit 36 runs, down the order. Kuwait were restricted to 141 in 49.3 over through Meiyappan’s spell of 4 for 32 well backed by Mohammad Tahir with 2 for 11.
Commenting on his unprecedented double triumph as Player of tournament, Lakra said: “I feel it was just the reward of the hard work in put in the past year and I am now reaping the rewards.
”The ACC tournament was contested by Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iran and Maldives.