Chaya Mughal is positive the UAE women’s team “can fly on their own” after bringing an end to her distinguished international career.
The all-rounder signed off her five-year stint as captain of the national team in fine style.
She oversaw a 19-run win over Namibia at Dubai International Stadium and took a wicket in the final over of the game.
It was the first match of a six-game T20 series between the two sides. This opening fixture served as a farewell for Mughal, with Esha Oza now set to take over the captaincy.
Aged 37, Mughal has been integral to the rapid advance of the women’s game in recent years.
Her influence will continue to be felt, as she will now devote her time to her role as the Emirates Cricket Board’s women’s development officer.
“When we started, the team was not in such a great form but now I feel they are very strong,” Mughal said. “They can fly on their own now.”
Her final match started in inglorious style. The UAE’s top order struggled to score and Mughal herself was run out for three after pulling out of a risky single to cover.
Theertha Satish, the non-striker, might have felt crestfallen at being at the wicket when her captain’s last trip to the batting crease ended in such fashion.
However, she remedied the situation by posting a half-century, which underpinned the home team’s total of 100-7 from their 20 overs.
The UAE players performed a guard of honour for their captain before heading out for their fielding session.
Then, after the hosts sealed victory by restricting their guests to 81-7, both sides created a tunnel and offered an ovation for Mughal.
“I can’t describe this feeling, it is just something very special,” Mughal said. “It is beyond my description, but I am feeling very happy and contented.
“Obviously, my aim was to play a World Cup, but unfortunately I couldn’t.
“It was just the realisation that I had played enough cricket. Cricket has given me so much and it is my time to give it back.”
Mughal’s list of achievements includes a record-equalling run of success in T20 internationals, while her last tournament saw the side win a place at the T20 World Cup global Qualifier.
That included a long-awaited win over Thailand in the final of the Asia Qualifier in Malaysia earlier this month.
“She is leaving a legacy of having won many tournaments, not just games, so they are going to be very big boots to fill,” said Oza, who will lead the team in the second game on Wednesday.
“I will do my best. I found out from the coach about a week ago [that Mughal would be retiring], then Chaya came to a practice session and said she would be stepping down.
“It wasn’t something we expected, especially after such a great win in the Qualifier, but we have to accept it and we wish her the best for whatever is coming for her.”
Oza said she will continue to play her natural attacking game despite having now been handed the captaincy.
“It means a lot to lead your country,” Oza said. “I am just trying to take it like anything else.
“You are still playing the game. OK, maybe you have a little extra responsibility, but nothing else changes.
“If I am going out to bat I am still going to play as myself. Everything stays the same, but I am going to enjoy leading.”