The UAE women’s team are focused on performing well at July’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in the Netherlands despite their disappointment at missing out on playing at the Asia Cup next month.
The national team will play at their most high-profile tournament to date in six weeks’ time, when they vie for one of two qualifying places at November’s World T20 in the Caribbean.
They made it to the global qualifier by finishing runners-up at the Asia regional event in Bangkok last November.
It had been widely assumed that finishing in the top two in that event Thailand would also mean playing at the Women’s Asia Cup 2018.
However, while Thailand will take up their place at that competition, the second berth for an associate nation in the six-team event will be filled instead by Malaysia, the tournament hosts.
It means Thailand and Bangladesh will get extra competitive match practice ahead of the Qualifier a month later, while the UAE side are having to make their own plans.
Despite the setback, Humaira Tasneem, the UAE captain, said there is plenty of reason for optimism ahead of the trip to the Netherlands.
The UAE squad has been bolstered by the significant addition of Chamani Seneviratne, who played five World Cups and captained Sri Lanka, before moving to Abu Dhabi for work.
Tasneem says the side will benefit from the expertise of their new colleague, having reached uncharted territory for UAE women’s cricket by making it to the Qualifier.
“Her experience is going to be very valuable for us because none of us have played her level,” Tasneem said.
“She has played ODIs, she has captained [Sri Lanka], and has played against teams like Bangladesh. It will be very handy to have that.
“She has already been practicing with us, we have seen what she does, and the way she plays is incredible. We are really happy to have her in the team and we are all going to be looking to her and be inspired by her.”
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The team have been in training for two months, as well as competing against each other in the UAE Cricket League, which was won by Abu Dhabi last week.
“Before we went to the Asia qualifier we hadn’t played a lot of matches, and we want to change that this time,” Tasneem said.
“We want as many matches as possible, and to get that experience of playing against each other.
“It is exciting. This journey started in Thailand, when we nearly won the tournament. We should have won that tournament, and it hurt us that we didn’t as we could have been playing Asia Cup now.”
The Qualifier starts on July 3, with the final on July 14, with the UAE being drawn in a group with Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and the hosts Netherlands.
“This is a very exciting, and rewarding milestone for UAE cricket,” Waleed Bukhatir, the Emirates Cricket Board member and chief selector said.
“Our women’s team continue to go from strength to strength, and we are exceptionally proud of both the players and the coaching team’s unwavering dedication and commitment.”
Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, UAE
Ireland, Scotland, Uganda, Thailand