UAE Under 19 World Cup hero Dhruv Parashar: 'We wanted to make everyone back home proud'

DESC schoolboy enjoys homecoming after helping UAE win plate title in the Caribbean

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The triumphant cricketers of the UAE Under 19 side might have been forgiven for feeling some back-to-school blues on Monday morning.

After all, they had just been on the most magical adventure imaginable. A month spent playing cricket with their closest mates, against the world’s best players in their age group, in a tropical paradise in the Caribbean.

And at the end of it all, they achieved something unique for a side from these shores: winning the U19 World Cup plate competition, with back-to-back victories against Test playing nations.

For Dhruv Parashar, 17, a return to normal life might have been especially dispiriting. After all, he had just taken four wickets against the mighty West Indies, before being named player of the match in the plate final against Ireland.

He was also fearful his schoolmates at Dubai English Speaking College might have forgotten who he was, given the time he has missed both for the tournament and the training camps ahead of the competition.

Not a bit of it, it turned out. His school were just as pleased to celebrate his achievement as he was.

“Today was my first day back at school and it was a really good welcome that I got from my classmates and all my teachers,” said Parashar, an off-spinning all-rounder and DESC A-level student, on Monday.

UAE players hold the trophy after beating Ireland by eight wickets to win the U19 World Cup Plate final on January 31, 2022 at Queen's Park Oval. Photo: ICC

“An email had been sent out to all my teachers and the PE department about my achievement with some photos.

“It felt like a lot of people wanted to know more. They knew I had been representing UAE, but a lot of people came up to me and wanted to know what the experience was like.”

As a student of biology, business and PE at one of Dubai’s leading schools, Parashar is likely to have lots of avenues available to him in the future.

Given his experiences in cricket to date, not least over the past month, the ICC Academy product is aiming "to make the UAE senior team and play cricket as a professional”.

He is hoping that will include more World Cups, too. Whether they match up to the experiences he has savoured over the past month is yet to be seen.

Dhruv Parashar bats during a training session at the ICC academy in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

“It was a really proud feeling being named man of the match, but the best thing about it is when it comes in a winning situation,” said Parashar, who was born in Pune, India, and came to UAE with his parents aged four.

“It means you have contributed to the team’s victory and that feels really nice. It was the first time UAE have won the plate category, and we are only the fourth Associate side to do it.

“It was my first World Cup. I didn’t have any expectations, I just wanted to go and play and give 100 per cent. It was a good outcome.

“Even though we didn’t have a full strength squad [after Covid cases during the closing stages of the competition], and we were missing three players who were a crucial part of the team, we weren’t thinking about that too much.

“We knew we all had a chance to make everyone back home proud if we played well. We just focused on that, and everyone played really, really well.”

Updated: February 08, 2022, 4:56 AM
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