Dubai teenager ready for big leap as UAE women’s cricket makes live broadcast debut

Kavisha Kumari will captain in Sharjah exhibition match – the curtain-raiser for Emirates D10 final on Monday

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Playing in a match being broadcast live, in front of a potential audience of thousands, in a format you are trying for the first time, might be a daunting prospect for a teenage cricketer.

Kavisha Kumari will also have the responsibility of captaincy to worry about when UAE women’s cricket makes its debut on the small screen on Monday night.

The student from Dubai will be leading out ECB Falcons against ECB Hawks in a one-off exhibition match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The match is a curtain-raiser for the final of the Emirates D10 men’s tournament, and will feature the leading players from the women’s game here.

Rather than fret about the circumstances, Kumari is relishing the opportunity to play in a fixture that she hopes will have a seminal bearing on the future of women’s cricket.

And, she points out, despite being only 17, she has years worth of experience to draw on. She was just nine when she was first taken to Desert Cubs, the prolific Dubai-based cricket academy, by her father. And within two years she was already in the senior UAE women’s squad.

“I’ve been in this industry for a long time – since I was nine,” Kumari said.

“When I was first in the UAE team, with people twice my age, it was scary. I was just a tiny kid, a small fish in a big pond. I cherished each and every experience, and every tour.”

It is a good step, not only for the UAE women's team, but throughout the world

Two years ago, Kumari became the youngest female player to score a T20 international half-century, against Malaysia in Oman.

She is hoping to reprise that form during Monday’s livestream, and help inspire potential new recruits to the women’s game in the process.

“It is the first time UAE women’s cricket will be livestreamed,” Kumari said.

“The D10 can be viewed everywhere throughout the world. For us to be playing before the final is a really big thing. Everyone’s excited and we are thankful for the opportunity to play in this.

“As soon as we got to know about it, the first thing we all did was message friends and relatives, telling them to tune in.

“With the livestream, young girls will get the chance to see the women’s teams playing. Hopefully they will be inspired, and want to be on that stage themselves one day.

“The more viewers there are, the more word will spread. Throughout the world, there has only been limited streaming of ladies’ matches. You can’t watch all the games on YouTube, because there is only specific coverage.

“But with D10, anyone can watch it through Facebook. It is a good step, not only for the UAE women’s team, but throughout the world.”

Chaitrali Kalgutkar, the coach of the ECB Hawks side, said the players face a challenge adapting to a new format, having played T20 cricket exclusively to date.

“In terms of D10, the Emirates Cricket Board have started a very good initiative by having this for the very first time,” Kalgutkar said.

“Hopefully it will encourage other cricketers to take up the game. It is a very short format of the game, and is going to be a new challenge. The girls are very excited to see what can happen in just 60 balls.”