Asif Khan handed maiden call-up as UAE switch focus to ODI World Cup qualifying

Highly-rated batter in line for debut for on-song national team in series against Oman and Namibia

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The feeling of goodwill already pervading UAE cricket has been accentuated with a first call up for Asif Khan ahead of the national team’s return to 50-over World Cup qualifying.

The team will play back-to-back tri-series in the Cricket World Cup League 2 this month, starting with matches against Oman and Namibia.

They will then face Papua New Guinea and Nepal, with all fixtures set to be staged across Dubai and Sharjah.

The national team are on the crest of a wave having qualified for the T20 World Cup in style in Muscat last week.

That triumph was the culmination of a successful tour which also saw them take two One-Day International wins and a tie against Oman, who they will be reacquainted with at the ICC Academy on Saturday.

Now they have been able to add Asif to their in-form batting line up. His elevation to the side, after qualifying as per the ICC’s three-year residency criteria, has been much anticipated for some time now.

Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

It is hoped he could do similar for the middle-order to what Muhammad Waseem has managed at the top of the order, in his wildly-successful six-month introduction to international cricket.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE captain, says he has been “overwhelmed” by the response to the side’s T20 success, but he is urging his players to “get back to business” now.

“We have all been on another planet because we achieved the goals we set ourselves,” Raza said.

“It has been nice, because all the love and support we have received from everyone here has been amazing, and overwhelming as well.

“But it is important we get back to business now. These games are really important. If we play well and get good results, we can go up to No 2 in the table.”

UAE are fourth in the seven-team competition, which forms part of the qualifying process for the 2023 World Cup. However, partly because of the effects of Covid on the scheduling of fixtures, they have played a full 13 matches fewer than leaders Oman.

“The sign of a good team is getting results back to back to back,” Raza said.

“You have never done enough. This is a different format. The T20 World Cup is not enough for us. We want to get to the 50-over World Cup as well.

“Every game we play is going to be really important. The standings in the table don’t really show what we have done.

“Good teams don’t achieve something then go downhill. We want to stay there, to keep performing, and to keep getting those points.”

The eight matches the national team face in March will take their tally to 19 games in the space of a little over six weeks.

They only played six in all cricket in the entirety of 2021, and Raza is delighted with the workload.

“When you are playing well, it is a blessing that you are going to be playing all these games,” Raza said.

“The team is well balanced. Everyone is in good nick. Everything happens for a reason. We didn’t play a single game of World Cup League last year, but this year we have great additions like Waseem, Kashif [Daud], and Vriitya Aravind is in top form.

“All of this has worked in our favour. It is important we turn all these positives into good performances.”

Updated: March 03, 2022, 2:18 PM
Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

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