UAE players told to build on ILT20 experience in Afghanistan series

National team play first of three T20 Internationals on Thursday in Abu Dhabi

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Robin Singh believes the three-match T20 Internationals against Afghanistan is a “perfect opportunity” for his players to build on their recent performances in the inaugural ILT20.

The UAE face Afghanistan in the opening match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, followed by back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday at the same venue.

“We are going for a win of course and at the same time provide opportunities to develop the youngsters,” the UAE head coach told The National on Wednesday.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for the UAE players to play against Afghanistan, especially after the ILT20. These games will provide the exposure they need and see where they stand in terms of their levels in the top flight.

“Provided with the opportunity in the ILT20, there were players who performed pretty well at that level. [Muhammed] Waseem was exceptional and we had a few others with good shows.

“Against Afghanistan is another opportunity for those in the squad to showcase their level of cricket.”

Singh, who was appointed director of cricket and head coach of the UAE national team in 2020, has said from the outset that his target is to bring fresh young talent into the squad.

“Providing the youngsters the opportunity was always there from the time we played in the World Cup [in Australia],” Singh added.

“We need to develop them by giving them the exposure. There are plenty of talented youngsters, some in the squad already, and some in the fringes of getting in.

“We need to provide them the opportunities to see them take their game to the next level. The objective is to provide those sitting out also the opportunities as and when we play international matches.

According to Singh, Karthik Meiyappan is one of the youngsters to have already made his mark. Waseem, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa and Junaid Siddiqui are some of the seniors who have also impressed him.

“We found a new quick bowler in the name of [Muhammed] Jawadullah, and then we have Alishan [Sharafu] Fahad [Nawaz], Ansh [Tandon] just to name a few. We have quite a few knocking on the door.”

Afghanistan will play their home games in the UAE over the next five years after an agreement was signed between the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).

As part of the plan, Afghanistan will play UAE in a three-match T20I series in each of the five years.

“I wouldn’t know what agreement between the two boards but would certainly like to play more games in all formats, if that’s possible,” Singh said when asked if the three T20I’s can be further broadened to include all formats of the game.

“Afghanistan is a very good bowling side, with some of them world class. They are an experienced team and capable of beating anyone in the world.

“They have some world-class spinners, but having said that … we need to go out there and compete, and play well, and back ourselves to win.”

Updated: February 15, 2023, 4:42 PM