'One dream' multiplies for UAE as attention switches to Asia Cup qualifying

Women's team look to extend winning streak as they start ACC T20 Women's Championship campaign in Malaysia

UAE's Chaya Mughal during a T20 against Hong Kong at Malek Cricket Ground, Ajman. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The rise and rise of the UAE women’s cricket team has been fuelled by a simple motto: “One team, one dream.”

The players repeat the mantra in their team huddles before they go out to field. They say it when they are together toasting wickets.

They sometimes even shout it across the field to each other when they are switching positions between overs.

And yet, so successful have they been over the past year, they might have to revise the wording. After all, they are chasing dreams on a number of fronts these days.

ACC T20 Women’s Championship

UAE fixtures
Friday, June 17 v Oman
Saturday, June 18 v Singapore
Monday, June 20 v Malaysia
Wednesday, June 22 v Qatar
Friday, June 24, semi-final
Saturday, June 25, final

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Rithika Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Sanchin Singh, Siya Gokhale, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh

Last week, the country’s leading age-group players completed qualification for the first Women’s T20 Under 19 World Cup with a dominant display in Malaysia.

Many of that successful squad have stayed on in Kuala Lumpur to try to do the same for the first Asia Cup for women, which is due to take place later this year.

If the national team are successful in the ACC T20 Women’s Championship, which starts when they play Oman on Friday, they could set a world record.

The UAE have won 14 matches in a row in T20 internationals. The record, currently held by Thailand, is 17 wins in succession.

And in addition to all of that, they will play in the Women’s T20 World Cup global qualifier on home soil in September.

“We are going by one thing at a time,” Chaya Mughal, the captain, said.

“At the moment, this is the Asia Cup qualifier. Before it was the U19 World Cup. Every time we go on the field, there is a mission we have to achieve.

“We have a really good blend of youngsters and senior players. This is the strength of the UAE team.

“The youngsters bring excitement, they are always up for the challenge, and the seniors are always there to support them.

“We just want to give them the confidence we are looking for. That combination has really been working for us.

“As soon as we are at the ground, are motto is: one team, one dream. When you know you are sharing a common dream, and working towards it, it makes things easier.

“Every time we take a wicket, we keep reminding ourselves of it. Every time one of us hits a boundary, we are one more step closer to our dream.”

There are two notable absentees in the squad for the ACC Championship. Mahika Gaur, the left-arm fast bowler who was so outstanding in the U19 side’s World Cup qualification campaign, has returned to Dubai rather than stay on.

The England-born fast bowler was given dispensation to sit some GCSE exams while she was in Malaysia, but has returned to UAE for the rest.

Chamani Seneviratna has also not travelled for the tournament. The former Sri Lanka Test player is said to be planning to save annual leave from her day job for the T20 World Cup campaign later this year.

Each of the absentees have been key figures in the national team’s remarkable winning streak.

Mughal is confident the team can thrive without them, and she says the team do not spend too much time discussing their chances of setting a world record.

“Every time we are together we remind ourselves we are not going to take any team lightly,” Mughal said.

“We don’t want to underestimate any team, even if we have beaten them before. We take each game as a new game.

“We are confident, but not overconfident. We keep our minds open for anything that comes our way.”

Robin Singh, the UAE director of cricket, believes the success of the age-group side can have a positive effect on the senior team.

Players like Theertha Sathish, who captained the age-group side, Samaira Dharnidharka and Vaishnave Mahesh are likely to have key roles to play in the senior side’s campaign, too.

“Through the confidence gained by that performance, we strongly believe they will achieve the goal of winning the pool and the overall championship title,” Singh said.

Updated: June 17, 2022, 3:48 AM
ACC T20 Women’s Championship

UAE fixtures
Friday, June 17 v Oman
Saturday, June 18 v Singapore
Monday, June 20 v Malaysia
Wednesday, June 22 v Qatar
Friday, June 24, semi-final
Saturday, June 25, final

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Rithika Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Sanchin Singh, Siya Gokhale, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh

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