Abu Dhabi: The UAE captain Rohan Mustafa and his teammate are keen the make the most of the rare opportunity to face a formidable Test-playing nation Australia in a one-off Twenty20 International at the Abu Dhabi Cricket Oval 1 on Monday. The action starts at 2pm.
“It a huge match for us. We have a not played high-profile match like this since the 2015 World Cup. So it has been well over three years. I would say we are lucky to get this opportunity and everyone in the camp wants to make the most,” said Mustafa while speaking to Gulf News on the eve of the encounter.
Mustafa and his side had earlier missed out on a huge opportunity to figure in the Asia Cup in front of home fans after having lost to Hong Kong in the final of the qualifier. Mustafa was of the view that it was a hard pill to swallow and this contest against Australia gives them an opportunity to redeem themselves.
“Missing Asia Cup was a huge setback, everyone was disappointed. I actually didn’t go to the stadium to watch a single match of Asia Cup. Not being there was painful, but we have to put that behind and look forward. A contest like this can bring all the spirit back in the camp,” felt Mustafa, who is confident of UAE putting up a good fight against the Australians.
“Australians are not the same side anymore, they don’t have Steve Smith or David Warner. They will also be under pressure to do well. If we can get going with our batting at the top, we definitely have the capabilities to surprise them. We will not let them go easy,” said Mustafa, adding that T20 cricket is their forte and they are well-versed with the playing conditions here.
There are a few changes to the UAE squad as well. Amjed Gul, who was dropped after his poor show with the bat in the three-match T20 series against Afghanistan in 2016, comes into the squad after a two-year gap.
“Gul is back in the side following his good performance in the local leagues. I’m confident he can be very handy with the bat,” said Mustafa, who also revealed that his spin department has been beefed up by inclusion of chinaman bowler Tahir Latif.
Latif was exceptional with the ball for Phoenix Medicines and his four-wicket haul saw them clinch the 30th Sharjah Ramadan Cup earlier this year.
“Everyone in the team is well aware that if we do well against Australia here, many more teams will be keen to play us when they are touring here. That will be a huge boost for UAE cricket. We need to send a strong message that we are a strong cricketing unit,” said Mustafa before signing off.
UAE: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Ashfaq Ahmad, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Fahad Nawaz, Amjed Gul, Shaiman Anwar, Ahmad Raza, Imran Haider, Muhammad Naveed, Amir Hayat, Gulam Shabir (wk), Qadeer Ahmad, Tahir Latif, Zahoor Khan. Coach: Dougie Brown.
Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Mitch Marsh (vice-captain), Alex Carey (vice-captain, wicketkeeper), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Darcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Starc, Andrew Tye and Adam Zampa.