UAE allrounder Rohan Mustafa eyeing dream return to Australia

National team face two crucial days at T20 World Cup Qualifier in Muscat

Rohan Mustafa of UAE celebrates a wicket against Ireland during the ICC World T20 Global Qualifiers at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground in Muscat. Subas Humagain for The National
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Rohan Mustafa is urging the UAE to remain on the attack as he eyes a dream return to Australia for a World Cup.

The national team are set for two crucial days of cricket at the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Muscat.

They face Bahrain in their final pool match at the eight-team tournament on Monday, ahead of a possible semi-final a day later.

UAE have been impressive in winning each of their first two games, against Ireland and Germany, in the competition so far.

It is possible they could be deprived a place in the last four if Bahrain were to upset the odds and beat them, and if Ireland beat Germany by a significant margin in Monday’s other fixture.

However, UAE are in outstanding form. They have lost just once in their past 10 matches in all cricket, and want to control their own fate with victory against their Gulf neighbours.

“We have to go hard against Bahrain and not give them the opportunity to win,” Mustafa said.

“If you lose matches like this your morale goes down and the other team’s goes up. They are unpredictable teams, so we have to go hard at them.”

Mustafa is unique within the UAE squad, in that he has the experience of two previous World Cups. He was part of the side for the 2014 T20 version in Bangladesh, then played at the 2015 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

A place in Thursday’s final of the Qualifier in Oman brings with it a trip to Australia in October to play in the main event, and Mustafa is intent on being on that flight.

“Someone asked me a few days ago, ‘What is your last dream in cricket?’ and I said I want to be the first player to play in three World Cups for the UAE team,” Mustafa said.

“I hope I can do that. It would be a very great opportunity for everyone. I know what the feelings are like when you go to a World Cup.

“The guys are really excited, and I am as well. I have been to two World Cups, including in Australia as well, and it was so beautiful. We want to get there and we are trying to do it.”

Mustafa had a boost ahead of the Qualifier when the latest ICC player rankings had him listed in the top 10 all-rounders in the world.

He says it was good news to receive, but that he is more focused on the collective effort at present.

“In my life, I always used to be very excited to get man of the match awards in international matches,” Mustafa said.

“After time, that becomes less. Right now, I don’t check Cricinfo, I don’t check anything else. If someone shares something on Twitter with me, I’m happy to share it back.

“But other than that, I just need to perform for my country. I want to do it for my country because this country has given me everything. It has given me a name.

“To be honest, I wasn’t aware [of his position in the ICC rankings]. One of the guys shared it with me on WhatsApp, congratulating me.

“It is a great thing, because I hadn’t been performing that well before this [tour]. When you do something and get such a thing as this, it raised your morale.

“It is the world rankings, so of course it is a good thing. But qualifying for the World Cup is far more important than anything like this.”

Updated: February 20, 2022, 7:54 AM