Rohan Mustafa omitted from UAE squad for T20 World Cup in Australia

Long-serving all-rounder vows to play on despite his dream of a third World Cup tour disappearing

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Rohan Mustafa says he hopes for the best for the UAE team and “will pray for them to win” despite his shock omission from the T20 World Cup squad.

The 33-year-old all-rounder received the news via text message on Friday night.

Mustafa is the most capped UAE player in both T20I and One-Day International cricket.

He had hit the winning run when the national team won the qualifying tournament for the T20 World Cup, in Muscat in February.

In the immediate aftermath of that win over Ireland, Mustafa said he was looking forward to making history by becoming the first UAE player to appear in three World Cups.

He played the first time the national team featured in what was then known as the World T20, in Bangladesh in 2014. He also played at the 50-over version in Australia and New Zealand a year later.

However, his dream of a return trip to Australia will not be realised after he was left out of the 15-man squad for the tournament.

Mustafa said he was hurt by being dropped, but wishes his erstwhile teammates success.

“Of course it is going to be sad for me to watch,” Mustafa said.

“It was the dream for me, as it would have meant me becoming the first UAE player to play at three World Cups.

“It will be a sad moment for me, and I feel like they are going to miss me a bit. I felt like I had been doing well in T20Is, and was No 8 [in the ICC all-rounder rankings] before I stopped looking at these things.

“I will miss them, and do believe they will miss me too, but I will definitely sit down and watch their matches and pray for them to win.

“I have played cricket with them for a long, long time and they are all my friends and colleagues. I wish that they will win and qualify for the next round.”

The national team will play matches against Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka, Namibia and the Netherlands in Geelong next month.

The top two sides in that group will advance to play in the main competition at venues across Australia.

Since sealing qualification in fine style earlier this year, the national team have had a fraught time on the field.

Indifferent results in the 50-over Cricket World Cup League 2 led to Ahmed Raza’s removal as captain on the eve of the Asia Cup qualifying tournament last month.

Raza has retained his place in the squad for the World Cup, despite both him and Mustafa being dropped from the starting XI at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Oman.

The experienced duo, who were former schoolmates in Sharjah, were omitted in response to the national team’s opening game loss to Kuwait.

Mustafa was so stunned by his removal from the line up that he was in tears in the dressing room for the majority of the next match, and inconsolable.

“I did not even cry as much for my father as I did then,” said Mustafa, whose father died when Mustafa was just a teenager.

“But I believe that everything that happens happens for good. I believe something good will happen to me as well.”

Mustafa says he is not considering retirement and hopes to play again for the national team one day.

Updated: September 17, 2022, 9:24 AM