‘I love chasing, too’: Tanish Suri imitates hero Virat Kohli in UAE win over Sri Lanka

Age-group team in with a shot of semi-final against India or Pakistan in U19 Asia Cup in Dubai

UAE batsman Tanish Suri scored 75 off 88 balls in the UAE’s two-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the ICC Academy Ground, Dubai, UAE on December 11, 2023. Photo: ACC
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He’s got the earring. He’s got the exhaustive repertoire of shots. He’s got the mix of swagger and composure. He loves a run chase. And he was even born in Delhi.

On Monday, Tanish Suri made his first notable mark on international cricket, too, as he played the innings which brought about the UAE’s milestone win over Sri Lanka in the Under 19 Asia Cup.

Clearly, he is a few achievements behind his hero just yet. But, in the form of Virat Kohli, he has certainly picked a decent role model.

“I love him,” Suri said, after doing a passable impression of the India great while making 75 in the UAE’s two-wicket win over the Sri Lankans. “I try to implement what he does in my technique, and I love chasing.”

The win over Sri Lanka leaves the UAE in with a shot at qualification for a potential semi-final against either India or Pakistan.

If they beat Japan on Wednesday, and Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka, they will definitely advance. They could still do so if they beat Japan and Sri Lanka overcome Bangladesh, but it will be dependent on net run rate.

They would already be as good as guaranteed a place in the last four had they not faltered when chasing a similar target against Bangladesh to that which they achieved in beating Sri Lanka.

Tellingly, Suri’s stay was only brief against Bangladesh. Against the Sri Lankans, he was noticeably more measured, as he hit four fours and three sixes in his 88-ball stay.

“In the last game against Bangladesh, I had a flurry [of shots] at the start,” said Suri, who dovetails cricket with studying accounting and finance at Heriot Watt University in Dubai.

“I had a word with my coaches, and I’d like to thank them. They told me to play it a little safer, keep the shots along the ground, and take it deep. I think that is the reason for our win.

“This is one of the biggest games I have played in – Sri Lanka, a Test-playing nation, on a big stage [in the Asia Cup].

“I stuck to my basics and played as per the ball, without looking at who the bowler was or the team. And after that we got a win.”

The senior national team had an afternoon gym session while the U19s fixture was happening on the field outside at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

They stayed on to see the nervy final overs and cheered their young colleagues over the winning line.

They are already aware of Suri. Although he was not officially part of their squad for the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier last month, he did join them in Kathmandu.

He was part of their training drills at the matches in Mulpani, in the tournament which eventually saw the UAE beaten to qualification by Nepal.

It appears he is already regarded as the next off-the-production-line of young talent. A raft of teenagers have been given their opportunity in the senior team over recent seasons.

Of the side playing in the U19 Asia Cup, Aryansh Sharma and Ethan D’Souza have played for the men’s side, while Aayan Khan is already a mainstay, having played 46 senior games.

Aayan, the captain of the U19 side, believes Suri’s game reached a new level in his innings against Sri Lanka.

“He played really, really well,” Aayan said. “He took his batting game on to another stage in his life.

"He played so well it helped us go through the chase easily. It was really important for the team.

“He played the fast bowlers really well, and the spinners. We wanted him to get a big score because he can do it, and it happened. We are expecting more from him in the future games.”

The win over Sri Lanka was the fifth against a Test-playing nation that the UAE have registered over the past two years, between their senior and U19 side.

“It says an awful lot about the direction UAE cricket is going in,” Mudassar Nazar, the UAE coach, said.

“If you look at the changes in infrastructure there have been in UAE cricket in the past seven or eight years, and the International League T20, plus all the international teams that have come to the UAE, it speaks volumes.

“It says a lot about the efforts of the ECB [Emirates Cricket Board] and the players themselves.”

Updated: December 12, 2023, 8:00 AM