Ali Nasser
UAE debutant Ali Naseer plays a lofted cover drive to the fence in the first One-Day International against West Indies. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

Dubai: Young UAE all-rounder Ali Nasseer had to wait patiently for his chance after being part of the team for a few months now, but the teenager made the wait count after scoring a fine half-century in the first One-Day International against West Indies at the Sharjah Stadium on Sunday.

“Obviously, I was a bit nervous before going into the field, but I was also quite excited to make my debut in international cricket, especially against such a big team like the West Indies, who are a Test-playing nation. It was a good moment to finally get my cap for the UAE on the international stage,” said the 19-year-old left-hander.

Plenty of composure

Ali Nasser came in to the crease when the hosts were in trouble at 107 for five, on a wicket that was giving plenty of assistance to the West Indian spinners. Despite losing senior partner Rohan Mustafa shortly afterwards, the young debutant showed plenty of composure to give UAE a fighting total of 202 in the company of tail-enders.

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Ali Naseer receives his UAE cap from coach Mudassar Nazir ahead of the first ODI. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

He didn’t alter his aggressive approach and played with ease after getting his eye in. His 52-ball 58 contained five fours and two sixes. However, Brandon King’s century took West Indies to a comfortable seven-wicket win. UAE are playing a three-match ODI series against West Indies as part of their preparations for the ICC 50-over World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe later this month.

Natural game

“When I went in to bat when our side was about 100-odd for five. I first took my time to settle in and then obviously I felt like playing my natural game, which is to be aggressive, and to put the bowlers under pressure. I tried to put away the bad balls and I tried to take the game as deep as possible,” he said showing a great maturity and understanding of the game.

Ali Naseer’s nerves would been eased to a great extent as the senior UAE team had some of his Under-19 World Cup winning teammates Aayan Khan, Adhitya Shetty and Aryansh Sharma. Unlike in the past, where the veteran players from the subcontinent would represent the UAE. A lot of young home-grown players are getting their chances on international stage, a healthy sign for the future of UAE cricket.

Ali also feels his stint with Desert Vipers in the ILT20 also shaped him to be a good player.

Bowling variations

“That was a really a good learning experience playing in the big ILT20 league when you are around some of the best players like Alex Hales, Colin Monroe. And then we also have bowlers like Tom Curren and Gus Atkinson, Sheldon Cottrell, whom I like to pick their brains and try and bowl different types of deliveries. Overall, it was really a good experience and I was able to learn a lot from them,” added Ali, who is in the first year of his Bachelor’s degree.

“I have played against a few of these players before and having played in the UAE circuit for a while along with a few practice matches against UAE bowlers like Zahoor Khan and Junaid Siddique it has helped me increase my confidence and also improve on my technique as an all-rounder. These leagues and all the exposure has really helped me to settle in to international cricket.”

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Ali Naseer feels his stints with the UAE team and the ILT20 have helped him improve his game. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

UAE skipper Muhammad Waseem, speaking during the prize presentation ceremony, heaped praise on the two teenagers, Aayan Khan and Ali.

Consistent performance

“Ali played well, but we were short by 50-60 runs. Aayan bowled well, but King played an excellent knock for West Indies. We will take some positives from this match and, hopefully, do well in the other games,” Waseem, the dashing opener with big-match temperament said. Waseem, who got out cheaply in the first ODI, should come good in the second ODI on Tuesday, given his talents on the big stage.

Buoyed by the confidence, Ali Naseer is looking forward to the second of the three ODIs at Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday.

“I’m quite excited to play in the second ODI. I try to produce a consistent performance and be permanent member of the UAE squad. And that means that I have to also need to bowl better because I’m selected as an all-rounder. Hopefully, everything goes well if I’m picked for the match,” he concluded.