The UAE have been handed a boost ahead of their first appearance at a Women’s Asia Cup with the return of Mahika Gaur.
The national team will face India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia at the competition in Sylhet. They start their campaign against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
The competition follows on swiftly from the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi.
The national team finished seventh out of the eight teams at that event in the capital. They did pick up the notable scalp of Zimbabwe during the group phase, though.
Their pursuit of one of the two qualifying spots at that event was hamstrung by the absence of Gaur.
The towering left-arm fast bowler left Dubai to attend school in the UK this summer. She only made it back to the UAE in time to greet her teammates at the end of their win against United States in the seventh-placed playoff on Sunday night.
For good reason, they were delighted to see her. Gaur played an integral role in the UAE’s 20-match unbeaten streak that led up to the T20 International Quadrangular series in Dubai this month. In her absence, they lost seven matches out of nine.
The 16-year-old quick played an even more vital role in the U19 side’s qualification for their age-group World Cup. In the Qualifier in Malaysia earlier this year, she took 11 wickets in five matches, at a remarkable average of 2.36 per wicket.
“This is a historic moment for our UAE cricket women,” Andrew Russell, the Emirates Cricket Board’s development manager was quoted as saying.
“Playing in the Women’s Asia Cup [for the first time] is a great honour and one we are confident our ladies will take great pride in.”
Jay Shah, the president of the Asia Cricket Council, said the new seven-team, round-robin format will be “a great boost” for the women’s game on the continent.
“The tournament will be conducted in line with ACC’s vision for women’s cricket,” Shah said. “The ACC, with this vision in mind, is constantly striving toward being more inclusive.
“For the first time ever, an ACC tournament will see an all-female presence on the playing field, with the women’s tournament to have only female umpires and female match referees.
“As an organisation, we hope to continue to take steps to strengthen the sport by highlighting female talent in every avenue.”
Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Rishitha Rajith, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka, Mahika Gaur