Vriitya Aravind opted out of having an X-ray on his injured hand to ensure he played in the UAE’s winner-takes-all fixture against Nepal.
The UAE wicketkeeper was struck on his right hand while batting against Hong Kong in their final group match in Mulpani on Thursday.
Victory in that meant the UAE faced Nepal a day later at the same ground in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier.
The winners of that game would qualify to play at next year’s World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean. As such, Aravind did not want to miss out and so did not risk having a scan on the injury, in case it showed a break.
He credited Dr Manish Pardeshi, the UAE physio, for getting him into a fit state to play. Aravind was dosed up on painkillers to enable him to take his place in the starting lineup, and wore a lightweight cast when he was batting.
Despite being limited by the injury, as well as being struck another painful blow on exactly the same place, he struck his highest T20 international score since February 2022.
His heroic 64 went in vain, though, as the UAE eventually lost out by eight wickets to Nepal.
“I don’t like having scans on my fingers because I am used to keeping [wicket] and breaking them,” Aravind said.
“I didn’t want anything playing on my mind before the game. Then I was hit on the same place again.
“I was on a lot of painkillers before the game. I had a long night of recovery [on Thursday] and a lot of credit goes to our physio, who was with me till 12am.
“He was doing stimulations so the swelling could go down. It was always going to be hard for me to keep but we thought if we bowled first I could try to fight through it.”
He did not take part in fielding practice before the game, and he said his fingers were numb because of the cast.
Pardeshi cut the cast off with five overs to go, and Aravind proceeded to launch two sixes and a four off the bowling of Abinash Bohara.
“Till the 14th or 15th over it was playing on my mind,” he said.
“It felt like there was something wrong with it because I had a cast on. I thought, with five overs left, ‘This is a World Cup we are playing for, let me take this cast off.’
“I took it off, thinking whatever happens happens, and I would just play. It was all top hand, which is why I think it went so far.”
Muhammad Waseem, the UAE captain, praised Aravind’s battling effort, but said his side had fallen 25-30 runs short after posting 134 for nine from their 20 overs.
“He is a strong guy, a fighter, and played a really good knock but unfortunately we could not make a good total,” Waseem said.
The UAE had been aiming to make it to a second consecutive T20 World Cup, having played in it in Australia last year.
“It is a bitter feeling,” Aravind said. “Everyone wants to play at the World Cup. It is every cricketer’s dream. Before you even start playing professional cricket, you see a World Cup and you want to be part of it.
“It was all of our dreams. But we are a young squad, so hopefully we can come back and learn our lessons with the same group for the next World Cup.”
Aravind himself is just 21 years of age, but the game against Nepal was his 100th limited-overs international for the UAE.
There is plenty of other young talent in the squad. Aayan Khan only turns 18 later this month, Aryansh Sharma is 18, Ali Naseer 19, Alishan Sharafu and Nilansh Keswani are 20, Sanchit Sharma 22 and Karthik Meiyappan 23.
Aravind reckons the young side will be better for their experience of heartache in Kathmandu, just as Nepal’s young side must have been after losing a similar fixture to the UAE in Oman last year.
“It was similar for Nepal, as they had a lot of youngsters when they played against us last year in Muscat in the semi-final,” Aravind said.
“They were on the other side of things when we won, so of course they came here to take revenge, and they did.
“Hopefully we can learn from this. We are young and it is all part of the journey. It is all about how you take this loss, and how you use it to prepare for the next tournament.
“Hopefully we can come back stronger and start winning games.”