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UAE's Aryansh Sharma takes the aggressive route during the first T20 match against New Zealand at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on August 17. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: UAE’s recent performance against New Zealand earned them global praise including from India’s ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. In the three Twenty20 Internationals against the Black Caps, the UAE managed to win one while losing the other two, but not before putting up brave fights.

It was the youngsters who grabbed the attention during the series held in Dubai last week. UAE took the risk of experimenting their squad by fielding as many as four youngsters being part of the playing XI.

“It’s always encouraging when you are trying out new talents,” said UAE’s interim head coach Mudassar Nazar. “But these boys have been part of the system and have come through the ranks playing cricket at different age categories. So it’s nice to see the way they are progressing in their careers,” he added.

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UAE's Aayan Afzal Khan appeals during a T20I against New Zealand at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on August 19. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Notable performances

The performances of 17-year-old left-arm spinner Aayan Afzal Khan and 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Aryansh Sharma were key among the many notable accomplishments in the New Zealand series.

“Both of them showed a lot of promise. Aayan graduated very quickly from the West Indies series and has been consistent with his performance. Aryansh was one of our star performers too. Since the West Indies series and then the World Cup Qualifiers he’s been in and out of the team. He’s being getting good starts but hasn’t been able to convert it into big scores, but he’s showing lot of potential. He’s keeping the wickets really well,” Mudassar said.

Mudassar Nazar

Mudassar said he was impressed with the UAE’s outing against the Kiwis and the result could have gone in hosts’ favour with a slightly better show. “It was fantastic to watch the boys put on a fine performance. Unfortunately, in the first match the visitors were down and out at one stage, but we let off that advantage due to our inexperience. That’s because we were trying out a lot of youngsters in the team, so these things can happen,” the coach added.

“At the end of the day, out of the three games, we were a better side in the first two games. So we have every reason to be pleased with it,” he added.

Important matches

UAE has a busy schedule and the former Pakistan batting all-rounder feels the result against New Zealand should keep the team in good stead. “There’s the Gulf Cup coming up and then we have an event in Nepal. We are also trying for a series against Nepal again. So these are going to be very important for us that will lead us into the ICC events starting from January. I think we will be prepared for that with lot of other youngsters also progressing well. I see the situation looks very good for us,” said Mudassar, who added that frequent matches against top Test teams will provide the UAE team more exposure.

“Obviously, you become better. We are fortunate that most of these teams travel through Dubai. So we will continue to invite the other cricket boards and look forward to more matches. It will certainly speed up the growth for players,” he said.