DUBAI // While some international sportsmen apparently feel aggrieved at being made to play the sport they are paid to play, others will actively deprive themselves of sleep to play their game for next to nothing.
Khurram Khan, the UAE cricket captain, probably has not heard about the Carlos Tevez saga. He has been a little busy, after all.
As a flight purser for Emirates Airline, he was due to be on the 2.45am flight from Dubai to Houston last night, a 14-hour basic shift, before you factor in the other imponderables of air travel.
Most people would prepare for such a day's work with as much sleep as possible. Khurram, though, just hoped he would be able to steal a couple of hours between almost single-handedly guiding the UAE to victory over Afghanistan, and take off.
The left-handed all-rounder has long been one of the finest players outside of the Test-match sphere, and he proved it again on Thursday.
First, he took four wickets as Afghanistan were bowled out for 174 in their Caribasia meeting at Dubai Sports City.
That target was not going to be easy on a wearing pitch, but Khurram's class told as he navigated his side through a mid-innings collapse and all the way to a two-wicket win.
"It was difficult batting in the first innings, but by the time we got to bat it was totally torn apart, and spinning from left and right," Khurram, who ended unbeaten on 44, said. "We had a very good start, but then we played some rash shots and gave away a few wickets in the middle of the innings.
"Fortunately, the run rate never got away from us and was always manageable, so we just had to play proper cricket shots and we got there."
Victory was another morale boost for the UAE ahead of the four-day Intercontinental Cup match against Afghanistan, which starts on October 5, in Sharjah.
However, they know the Afghanistan team they will face then will be much changed from this one.
While a largely inexperienced side were taking on the UAE, some of the country's leading players are in Pakistan, representing the Afghan Cheetahs in the domestic Twenty20 competition.
Much of the Afghanistan party in Dubai were more preoccupied by the action being streamed live to a laptop in the scorebox from the Cheetahs match with Faisalabad.
The UAE have also been testing the strength of their reserves in this low-key tournament, though, and Kabir Khan, the coach, was given reason for cheer in the form of Faizan Asif, a new left-handed opening batsman. He made a blistering 49 from 48 deliveries, to get the UAE reply off to a rapid start.
"I like to play my shots, but it was difficult today as the pitch was turning a lot," Asif said.
"I managed to get a good start, then Khurram batted very well to see us through at the end."
and Paul Radley