Abu Dhabi T10: Shiraz Ahmed doing his best to catch UAE selectors' attention

Uncapped left-arm pace bowler unable to showcase his skills Wednesday as match against Karnataka Tuskers rained off at Zayed Cricket Stadium

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 17, 2019: Arabians' Shiraz Ahmed bowls during the game between Maratha Arabians and Qalandars in the Abu Dhabi T10 league. Sunday the 17th of November 2019. Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The Abu Dhabi T10 might be a cheery distraction from the difficulties faced by UAE cricket at present.

But the local players involved would be forgiven for having at least some of their thoughts on international duty.

The national team assemble again when this competition is finished, for a one-day international series involving Scotland and United States.

The fact that six players are currently either suspended or absent from duty pending an investigation into corruption means there are spaces up for grabs in the national team.

The T10 has allowed the players to banish the memories of their failure to make it to next year’s T20 World Cup, via the recent Qualifier.

Despite a rule that states each side must field at least one UAE-qualified player in their starting XI in the T10, opportunities to impress have remained limited.

But Ahmed Raza, Rohan Mustafa, Sultan Ahmed, and Mohammed Usman – all established figures in the UAE team – have had their moments in the spotlight.

Junaid Siddique took a wicket with his third ball of the competition, that of Colin Ingram, before his Northern Warriors side slipped to a six-run loss to Bangla Tigers on Wednesday.

One uncapped player, too, has caught the eye. Shiraz Ahmed is a left-arm pace-bowler who was little known before this tournament.

But he has appeared confident when handed the ball by Dwayne Bravo, his Maratha Arabians captain.

In his second match, the 28-year-old from Multan in Pakistan went for just 14 in his two overs to help bowl Maratha to a win over Qalandars.

“I am very happy that I am playing for such a good team as Maratha Arabians with so many experienced players around me,” Shiraz said.

“I like playing under pressure, and I have good players around me supporting me so I have not been nervous.”

 

 

Shiraz’s performances should not have gone unnoticed. National team selectors Khurram Khan and Mohammed Tauqir are both serving coaching roles in the tournament, while Dougie Brown, the UAE head coach, is assistant coach for Team Abu Dhabi.

Ahmed Raza, the UAE captain, said the powers-that-be here are already aware of the pace-bowler’s merits.

“He has very good potential and has been around the circuit for a long time, but hasn’t played for UAE yet,” Raza said.

“He is a left-armer, and we don’t have that kind of variety on our bowling attack.

“It is the selectors’ call, but I think everyone who has been watching him has been very impressed.”

The encounter between Raza’s Karnataka Tuskers team and Shiraz’s Maratha Arabians was a washout, with the sides sharing a point apiece.

In the final match of the evening, Deccan Gladiators and Team Abu Dhabi shook hands and took a point away after a farcical end.

The Gladiators had appeared well placed on 25-1 in pursuit of the 119 they needed to beat the last-placed side, when rain interrupted the game 2.2 overs into their chase.

The rain did relent, and the covers were removed with plenty of time to reach the five overs that were needed to bring about a result.

But a lengthy delay while players and officials debated exactly what the revised target was meant time elapsed, and a no result was declared.

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