Chirag Suri says the UAE’s players want to make the country proud when they enter into cricket’s “big time” over the coming months.
The national team are set for arguably the most exciting season in the country’s cricket history.
First they are in Muscat for a four-team qualifying tournament, where they will play Kuwait, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
The leading team in that T20 series will then face matches against the giants of India, in Dubai, and Pakistan, in Sharjah, at the Asia Cup.
The Asia Cup itself is a precursor to the T20 World Cup. The national team will head to Geelong for opening round matches at that event, where they will play Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Namibia.
And, for the first time, the country’s leading players will get to play in a home T20 league alongside the gilded stars of the world game, when the International League T20 launches in January.
“For UAE cricket, this is a big time,” said Suri, the national team opener.
“Without doubt, everybody knows this is what we have been waiting for, for the past five or six years.
“There are opportunities for all the guys and it is about peaking at the right time. That is what the guys want to do.
“We want to put up some performances we can be proud of.”
Suri was the leading run-scorer when the UAE won their place at the Asia Cup qualifier, at a regional tournament in Muscat way back in 2020.
UAE qualify for T20 World Cup - in pictures
That was the last tournament they played before Covid caused widespread disruption to the sport, including the postponement of the Asia Cup.
Muscat has provided happy memories for the national team since the sport returned, too.
It was there where they sealed progress to the T20 World Cup earlier this year.
“Since we had the qualifier for this back in 2020, we have pretty much won every series in Muscat so far,” Suri said.
“It is a good feeling heading back to Muscat. We have good memories from there, guys have played well there, but we still have to step up.
“We know there are certain things we have to work on individually, and as a team as well.”
Suri is hopeful that the good vibes created by returning to Al Amerat will help lift spirits after a difficult time in Scotland in the 50-over format.
The national team lost three Cricket World Cup League 2 fixtures against Scotland and United States in Aberdeen last week, then saw the last abandoned due to rain.
It meant they have become embroiled in a battle for third place in that competition with the USA and Namibia, when they had harboured hopes of pushing for top spot.
The tour did provide a couple of shoots of optimism, notably with the promising debuts of Aryan Lakra and Sabir Ali.
“These have been different conditions,” Suri said of the challenges faced in Scotland.
“We have been consistent in [ODI cricket] as well, but not so much away from home as in conditions that are familiar to us.
“We would have liked to have won a few games to take that confidence into the Asia Cup qualifiers, but that has not happened.
“We have to take whatever we can from this. New guys have come in, Aryan did well, and a couple of the bowlers did well.
“You have to take the positives and keep moving forward. These have been a couple of bad games but we are still a very good side. I strong believe in this side going forward.”
Asia Cup Qualifier, Muscat
Sunday 21 August, UAE v Kuwait
Monday 22 August, UAE v Singapore
Wed 23 August, UAE v Hong Kong