Ahmed Raza hopes to support UAE at the World Cup despite omission

One of a variety of surprise omissions when the squad was announced, Raza, instead of wallowing in disappointment, is making plans to travel to watch his colleagues.

Ahmed Raza was omitted out of the squad at the expense of fellow spinner and captain Mohammed Tauqir. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Rather than mourning the end of his World Cup dream, Ahmed Raza has been looking at flights to go and support his mates in the national team instead.

The Sharjah-born spin bowler had seemed a certainty for the squad bound for Australia and New Zealand.

He was a mainstay of the side during the qualifying process and was captain last time out, in a one-day international victory over Afghanistan last month.

Yet, he was one of a variety of surprise omissions when the UAE squad was announced on Saturday. He said he found his exclusion hard to digest after receiving the news via the side’s Whatsapp group. But instead of wallowing in disappointment, he is making plans to travel to watch his colleagues.

“Depending on work commitments and the domestic cricket schedule, I will try my best to fly down under and support UAE for two games at least,” Raza said.

“I’m planning to go to the games against Ireland in Brisbane and India in Perth.

“If somebody gets injured in the warm-up, I’ll be there in the stands with my arm up, telling them I’m available.”

The other shock from the squad announcement, apart from Khurram Khan’s demotion from the captaincy, was the absence of Saqib Ali.

The Abu Dhabi-based batsman is another former captain of the side and has been – along with Khurram – the most reliable source of runs for much of the past decade.

Aaqib Javed, the coach, suggested a run of events started by Mohammed Shahzad breaking a thumb had led to Saqib’s absence. Shahzad was ruled ineligible because he was unfit to test his bowling action, which had been reported as suspect.

So the selectors opted for an all-rounder in Rohan Mustafa, rather than the specialist batsman Saqib.

“Shahzad is the kind of player you can bat at No 3, 6 or 7, and they went for Rohan instead of Saqib, because he is a versatile option as well,” Aaqib said.

pradley@thenational.ae

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