For the first time since the surprise decision to replace Ahmed Raza as UAE captain two months ago, coach Robin Singh has clarified the reasoning.
Raza oversaw the national team’s qualification for the T20 World Cup, via a tournament in Muscat in February. He had been captain of the side for three years, since the 2019 World Cup Qualifier, before being replaced by CP Rizwan in August.
Raza played in 53 of the UAE’s first 61 T20 internationals. He has played in just one of the six since he was replaced as captain, against Kuwait.
UAE have lost five of those matches, which includes two losses to Bangladesh, and one each to Kuwait, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.
Initially, the decision was explained, via a press release, as being part of “a strong leadership succession plan."
However, Singh said the decision was made on the basis that Raza was no longer guaranteed a place in the first XI.
“I think we first need to see who can make the team,” Singh said in a press conference ahead of the UAE’s match against Sri Lanka at the T20 World Cup in Geelong.
“I don't think this is the right forum for that in my opinion. Saying that, I think it's important to understand that when we change a captain, we change for a reason, and it's a board decision that has been taken.
“We wanted someone who we think can actually be starting in the game.”
Left-arm spinner Raza is part of the squad in Australia, but did not start in the UAE’s opening night defeat to the Netherlands.
The spin berths were instead filled by leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, as well as the allrounders Basil Hameed and Aayan Khan.
The national team need to claim the biggest scalp in the team’s history if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for the next phase of the World Cup.
Defeat to the Netherlands means Tuesday’s game at Kardinia Park against Sri Lanka – who also lost their opener to Namibia - is a must-win game for both sides.
“I think we don't really have a choice,” Singh said. “These are games that we look forward to playing. It's the first time we're playing Sri Lanka after a long time.
“I think in these tournaments you have to see the opportunity. Of course, UAE has played in World Cups before, but I think this is a fresh tournament, different conditions, different positions, different environments.
“It's one of those games where we need to win, just like Sri Lanka. I think we have to understand that it's just another game. They have been beaten by Namibia, and they can be beaten.”