UAE's Zahoor Khan to remain on compassionate leave, won't return for World Cup League Two campaign in Oman

Pacer flew to Pakistan after the death of his mother, left-arm seamer Mohammed Ayaz named replacement

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , October 22  – 2019 :- Zahoor Khan of UAE bowling during the World Cup T20 Qualifiers between UAE vs Jersey held at Tolerance Oval cricket ground in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Paul
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Zahoor Khan will not return from compassionate leave in time for the remainder of the UAE’s Cricket World Cup League Two series in Oman.

The fast bowler flew home to Pakistan on the morning of the opening one-day international against Oman on Sunday after the death of his mother.

With two matches remaining in the series, against Namibia on Thursday and Oman on Saturday, the national team have called up Mohammed Ayaz as a replacement.

“Clearly, when you lose someone like that in your family, it is a terrible situation and everyone deals with it in their own way,” Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said of Zahoor.

“We have given Zahoor some time to go and do the needful and hopefully he can come back with a clear mind, and continue to dominate like he has done for the past two years.”

Ayaz, a left-arm pace bowler, has been on the periphery for some time now, but this is his first official involvement with the side.

“We know Ayaz is a really useful left-arm seamer,” Brown said.

“He is reasonably quick, very skilful, and is a really good character as well.

“At this moment in time, that is what we are trying to develop. We want good characters in the group, and he adds value to that.

“When you lose a player of Zahoor’s magnitude, it is important to bring somebody in who can cover the skills we are losing. He is a great addition to the squad.”

Ayaz runs his own digital marketing operation, and as such did not have to ask anyone’s permission to leave work at late notice to represent the country at cricket.

“It was all of a sudden,” Ayaz said of how he found out about his call up.

“I was laying down on my bed and working on my laptop, then all of a sudden I got a call saying that I would be flying to Oman tomorrow, and to be prepared.

“I was a little bit shocked. I needed to arrange many things. It was exciting. I did not tell anyone, no-one at home, or my friends.

“When I arrived at the airport in the morning, that is when I messaged home, my family, my parents, to say I was going to Oman for the games.

“They were all excited. They have also been waiting so long for me to play.”

The 31-year-old bowler had figured in UAE’s plans as far back as five years ago, only for injury in a game in which he dismissed Eoin Morgan to sideline him for much of the time since.

“I have waited too long for this chance,” Ayaz said.

“I played against England Lions in 2015 in a T20 match, got injured, and after that it has been a long journey back. It took me three years of struggling with that injury.”

UAE will have the chance to avenge their opening day loss to Oman in the triangular series, when they meet again in Al Amerat, near Muscat.

The national team had a morale-boosting win in a thrilling finish against Namibia a day later, and Brown says they are upbeat.

“To win the last game [of December’s series] against Scotland was a real fillip for us, and we were disappointed to lose the first game here against Oman,” Brown said.

“It goes to show the importance of an extra 20 or 30 runs. If we had created any sort of scoreboard pressure against them like we did against Namibia, we know we can compete with the bowling attack we have.

“It was great to get across the line, but there is a multitude of things we need to improve on.

“Even if it wasn’t the youngest side we could put out, it was an inexperienced side nonetheless.

"We might have some fluctuations of performance, but over time we want that line to flatten out.”