Forty-six days after her brother Sanchit did the same for the UAE men’s senior team on the same field, Khushi Sharma made her debut for the women’s national team.
The similarities were many. Each bowled three overs of probing pace at the ICC Academy in Dubai. Both were making their competitive bows in the T20 international format.
One thing set apart 19-year-old Khushi’s big day, though. At the end of it, she was able to toast a win, after the home team got their ICC Women's T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier off to a flying start with a 30-run win over Malaysia.
“It feels great: both siblings playing for UAE is very special,” said Khushi, whose older brother had debuted in a defeat to Ireland last month.
“It felt amazing [to make her senior debut]. We found out yesterday at the team meeting, and I was a little nervous last night but today I felt more excited.
“We have a good blend of seniors and juniors. If ever we get nervous we go and talk it out with a senior player. They are pretty experienced so that helps.”
Even the junior players are adept at settling each others' nerves, it appears. Khushi bowled three tidy overs for 19 runs, after her roommate – and fellow debutant – Theertha Satish had made a decisive 46 with the bat for UAE.
“Theertha and I are both roommates and we were both making our debuts,” Khushi said.
“We were nervous last night, but when we woke up in the morning we were pretty set on what we were supposed to be doing for the team and what our roles are.
“There was enough of a cushion with the runs. Tt meant we weren’t as pressurised as bowlers.
“There might be moments further on in the competition where there will be crucial phases of matches and we will need to sharpen up. As a team we clicked pretty well.”
Theertha’s innings had been a vital one. The left-hander made 46 from 48 balls, and shared in a breezy partnership worth 56 for the second wicket with Esha Oza, who made 33.
That alliance was the backbone of UAE’s innings of 131-4 from their 20 overs.
Even though wickets were difficult to come by, the home team’s defence of that total was comfortable enough.
Venkataraman Subha took 1-19 from four overs, and Kavisha Kumari 1-18, as Malaysia were kept to 101-2 in reply.
Theertha was named player of the match for her efforts, and she was thankful for having a calming influence for a roommate.
“We were trying to comfort each other,” Theertha, 17, said of Khushi.
“We were nervous at night but when we woke up we were fine and trusted our skills, and hoped that would show out there.
“We tried to talk about us believing in ourselves, and about how we deserved to be here. As a player, you will always feel you have to practice more and get better, and no one is satisfied with their game.
“We were trying to convince ourselves that this was our moment and we should take it and enjoy it.”
After victory was sealed, the team were given a debrief by Robin Singh, the head coach of UAE cricket.
The former India allrounder will be flying to Windhoek on Tuesday with the senior men’s team, who will be playing a Cricket World Cup League Two tri-series with Namibia and Oman later this month.
The women’s side were grateful he stopped in to impart some wisdom before departing.
“I think that has helped us for our next game,” Theertha said.
“He is a player who has had so much experience. He knows how to analyse the game better than any of us. Hopefully the tips he gave us can help us a lot.”