Aryan Lakra seizes the day and points to bright future in international cricket

Young opener sparkled on ODI debut for UAE – now he is planning a tattoo to celebrate

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Aberdeen is not short of tattoo parlours. Which is handy for Aryan Lakra.

The 20-year-old UAE batter is in the habit of celebrating milestones in his life by getting ink done.

When he captained UAE to qualification for the Under 19 World Cup in 2019, he had “Carpe Diem” inscribed on his forearm.

Since then, he has added a couple more, one related to strength, power and witchcraft, and another – for his birthday – meaning “death is inevitable”.

Maybe now he will drop in to the Reign in Blood tattoo shop, just a short jaunt from Aberdeenshire Cricket Club in Mannofield, where he made his long-awaited international debut on Thursday.

The UAE lost the game, after a thrilling, last-over finish against United States. But Lakra had shown he is fully ready for senior cricket with a classy innings of 84 having opened the innings.

“This deserves a tattoo,” Lakra said. “It deserves another one to mark this memory for me.”

It is a memory that has been well earned. He might have made his debut 18 months earlier, against Ireland in Abu Dhabi, only to contract Covid just as he was set to make his bow.

UAE batsman Aryan Lakra raises his bat after reaching an ODI fifty on debut. Peter Della Penna / Cricket Scotland

He has had to wait patiently since, but he is grateful for the delay.

“In Jan 2021 I was really close to making my debut. Now, 18 months later, I have finally made it,” Lakra said.

“Today I realised it was all worth it because I don’t think that, back then, I was as prepared as I was now. I went into bat, and I was pretty confident to be honest.

“I said to [Muhammad] Waseem, ‘I just want to survive the first ball and not get a golden duck, then after that I will be happy with whatever I get.’

“Luckily, right after that I started middling the ball and I was happy I could get some runs for the team.”

Lakra only discovered officially that he was starting in the huddle ahead of play, but he had been tipped the nod by Robin Singh, the UAE coach, the previous evening.

“The coach came to our room the night before the game and said, ‘Just be ready’,” Lakra said.

“He didn’t confirm anything but he just told me to be ready and that I might get a game any time soon.

“He said, ‘Prepare yourself mentally to be batting at the top, you have been training well.’ Back in Dubai, I had had a few good knocks in training games.

“He told me that he believed in me, and that is why I am here, and to give my best if I had the chance.

“I didn’t want to text anyone back at home, because if I didn’t end up playing, the disappointment would be bad.

“I hoped that if I did get a chance, back at home they would be following the game, all my family and relatives. It was a nice surprise for them.”

After seeing both his more experienced opening options, Muhammad Waseem and Chirag Suri, fall cheaply, Lakra was tasked with repairing a listing innings for UAE.

He did so in concert with Vriitya Aravind, his age-group peer. Between them, the two old friends shared a century partnership before – ironically – a misunderstanding between them led to Lakra being run out.

“It came naturally to us,” Lakra said of his stand with Aravind. “We have been batting together for four or five years.

“It wasn’t anything new for us. We came in and thought of it as just another game and continued on.

“We couldn’t do anything about it. I can’t blame him [for the run out]. He didn’t want me to get out. These things happen in the game. What can we do?

“I was quite dejected when I got out. For the first 10 minutes I didn’t speak to anyone. After that, I just understood there are so many people who would have been grateful to get to 84 runs, like I got.

“I was happy, to be honest. By the end, I was content with it.”

Updated: August 12, 2022, 3:48 AM
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