UAE select 16-year-old schoolboy for T20 World Cup in Australia

Uncapped at senior level, Aayan Khan was hero of win over West Indies at Under 19 World Cup

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Aayan Afzal Khan, a 16-year-old schoolboy from Sharjah, will be on the flight to Australia as part of UAE’s squad for the T20 World Cup.

The all-rounder will join the senior squad for the first time when they make the trip to Geelong next month.

The national team will play first round matches against Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka, Namibia and the Netherlands.

Although uncapped at senior level, Aayan has played men’s domestic cricket for some years now.

He was also the outstanding player when UAE’s age-group side beat West Indies at the Under 19 World Cup in the Caribbean earlier this year.

CP Rizwan will captain the UAE at the T20 World Cup. His predecessor as captain, Ahmed Raza, has made the 15-man squad for the competition, but Rohan Mustafa, the country’s most-capped player, has been omitted.

The Emirates Cricket Board did not address Mustafa’s absence when they announced the squad via a press release.

The announcement, though, did cite the fact some players had been “rested” for the competition.

“While a number of players have been rested for this tour, Robin Singh, director of cricket and national teams’ head coach, is buoyed by the inclusion of a number of the country’s young talent that have proven their worth to wear the country’s flag,” the statement read.

Singh, the former India all-rounder, was quoted as saying he has “complete belief” in the squad.

“This team has a solid representation of experience and youth,” Singh was quoted as saying.

“It must be emphasised that UAE cricket’s youth have continued to show their worth at various successful ICC and Asian Cricket [age-group] campaigns, and, it is their time to showcase these proven talents to the cricketing-world alongside those [selected] experienced players.

“To represent your country is of great pride and our [coaching] team has complete belief in the maturity and skills of this group of players, and we expect them to surprise a few teams with their performances.”

Dr Tayeb Kamali, the chairman of the selection committee, was quoted as saying the tournament is “unique” in UAE’s cricket history.

“Qualifying to play against top national teams of the world at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup marks a milestone with UAE cricket’s growing strengths in the T20 format,” Kamali said.

“We extend our deep appreciation to all who have invested their time and efforts as we arrive at this unique moment in Emirates cricket’s history.

“We wish our team the very best as they continue to make their mark on international cricket at the ICC T20 World Cup.”

UAE squad

CP Rizwan (captain), Vriitya Aravind (vice captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, Basil Hameed, Aryan Lakra, Zawar Farid, Kashif Daud, Karthik Meiyappan, Ahmed Raza, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Sabir Ali, Alishan Sharafu, Aayan Khan

Updated: September 17, 2022, 3:09 PM