When Rohan Mustafa was counting down the final days before he could return to playing for UAE again, he suffered more than a few sleepless nights.
Not because of any agonising that, in the more than three months it had been since he last played international cricket, he might have lost his touch.
Nor, even, because he had lost the captaincy of his national team, as a consequence of the fall-out from his eight-week suspension for breaching the UAE's code of conduct.
Instead, his lack of shut eye was for far more positive reasons. Mustafa’s wife, Salma Durrani, gave birth to their first child on February 17.
Getting a young baby into any sort of sleeping pattern is difficult enough, but the newly arrived boy has also had to cope with jet-lag.
Arhaam was born on the other side of the world in Chile, where Mustafa’s brother lives, and where his wife had been for the previous two months in the lead up to the birth.
Given the recent travails he has suffered in his workplace – suspended in December, loss of the captaincy, missing an international series against Nepal – Mustafa was in need of a pick-me-up. He could not have had a better one.
“I went over there after the Nepal series [which finished in the first week of Fenruary], and we came back together,” Mustafa said.
“It is great. A lot of people told me that, when you have a kid, it will change your life and the way you think, and that is true.
“Whenever I feel sad, whatever happens to me, if I don’t perform in cricket, whenever I go to him, I forget everything.”
And, on his long-awaited return to the national team, Mustafa was straight back into the old routine against the United States.
After the first match of a two-game Twenty20 international series was washed out on Friday without a result, the former captain played an influential role in bringing about a series-deciding win on Saturday.
He made 45 at the top of the order, sharing in a 81-run stand with Shaiman Anwar, who was named man of the match for his 62 from 30 balls, as UAE made 182-7 in their 20 overs.
Mustafa then took 1-22 with the ball in four miserly overs, as the home team closed out a 24-run win at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
He said he was glad to be back in the side, given the troubled recent past.
“It was weird time, but I think it was good for the team as well,” Mustafa said.
“A few people were given their chance, and if you want to go higher you have to have back up as well.
“We worked hard on our mistakes. Bad batting has been one of our weaknesses, so working on that helped us in this match.”
It was noticeable that Mustafa seldom offered advice to Mohammed Naveed, his successor as captain, until the slog was on in the final overs.
“I play for my team,” Mustafa said. “Whoever the captain is, to be honest, I really don’t care.
“I spoke to Naveed in the first match, and today as well. A couple of decisions were according to me.
“We were doing well, and the team was going well, so there was nothing to advise him on.”
Steven Taylor top-scored for the second day in succession for the touring side, but the USA faltered once he fell for 49.
“I felt if I could bat through to the end, maybe there could still be a chance for USA,” Taylor said.