The UAE women’s cricket team had waited their whole lives to play at an ICC competition. Now they can get ready to go to a second, having booked their place at the next phase of the qualification process for the Women’s World Twenty20.
A 34-run win over Malaysia in Bangkok on Sunday meant the national team were guaranteed to finish in the top two of the Asia Qualifier.
They will meet Thailand in Monday’s final, with both sides guaranteed to advance to play in the Global Qualifier in the Netherlands in June.
They hope the ultimate destination will be the final competition in West Indies in November, but for now the UAE are toasting a mission accomplished.
“It feels amazing, we are all overwhelmed,” Humaira Tasneem, the UAE captain, said.
“It was all about teamwork. We hadn’t played these teams before, but we were ready for it. We lost the first game against Thailand, and it is a tough competition.
“The UAE team started 10 years ago and we had never been to ICC Qualifiers before, but now we have made it. We are going to Amsterdam. We are so pumped up.”
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The place in the top two was confirmed by the UAE’s most comprehensive win of the four they have had in the competition so far.
They managed 83-6 from their 20 overs, and Malaysia did not threaten to chase it down, finishing on 49-9 from their allocation.
Nisha Ali was the all-round star for the UAE. The Dubai-based PE teacher top scored with 36 not out with the bat, and then returned thrifty figures of 2-6 from her four overs, one of which was a maiden.
“This is a once in a lifetime achievement for us, a dream come true,” Nisha said.
“We are satisfied with our performance, we played as a unit, and we are feeling good. It is a brilliant start for all the youngsters.
“We have made a benchmark for them. It is a big thing for the girls.”
Nisha has played for the national team for the past two years, having moved from India to work in Dubai. She had initially hoped to play at a global competition with her homeland, and is grateful for the chance she has been given with her adopted country.
“I have been playing cricket for a long time, and it was very unfortunate I couldn’t play to a higher level [in India],” she said.
“Getting a chance here, I had to capitalise on that, and I feel like I have done that. Going to the World Cup and playing in that is one big dream. We are chasing our dreams.”
Although the main target for the trip to Bangkok has been achieved, the national team have one final test before they return home.
They were comprehensively beaten by Thailand in the group stage, and Tasneem says the tourists are keen to avenge that loss.
“We lost against Thailand the first time, and we were upset about that,” Tasneem said of the meeting with the undefeated host side.
“We want to put up a good show and win against them. That is the satisfaction we need right now.”