Rohan Mustafa’s dream of playing in World Cup for the UAE is revived

Mustafa had a one-year ban from living in the UAE overturned and within 24 hours of receiving the good news, he was on a flight back, writes Paul Radley.
UAE’s Rohan Mustafa is back with the team and has a chance for selection ahead of the start of the World Cup in February. AM Ahad / AP Photo
UAE’s Rohan Mustafa is back with the team and has a chance for selection ahead of the start of the World Cup in February. AM Ahad / AP Photo

DUBAI // Rohan Mustafa was thankful for having his World Cup dream revived after playing his first game for the UAE since having a one-year ban from living here overturned.

The court order was passed down at the start of September, on the eve of the UAE’s tour of Australia, after he was found guilty of absconding from duty.

He immediately returned home to his native Pakistan, fearing his chances of playing in the World Cup next year, or ever representing the UAE again, had been extinguished.

Mustafa expressed his gratitude to the Emirates Cricket Board, Aaqib Javed, the national coach, as well as his former employers for providing a no objection certificate to help his appeal.

The appeal was successfully upheld in November. Within 24 hours of receiving the good news, he was on a flight back to the UAE, was out on the field training with the national team the following morning, and played the final of a domestic tournament that evening.

“All credit goes to Aaqib and [ECB administrator] Mazhar Khan,” Mustafa said after the UAE narrowly lost the third one-day international against Afghanistan in Dubai.

“When I was in Pakistan they would message me every day, telling me they were working hard for me to come back. I am really thankful to everybody who helped me.”

The all-rounder looked rusty with the bat on his return for the UAE, having only played some low-level club cricket during his time in Pakistan.

However, he immediately proved his worth with the ball and in the field in a thrilling two-wicket loss against the ­Afghans.

Mustafa dismissed Afghanistan’s two leading batsmen, was the most economical UAE bowler and also took a sharp catch.

No matter how he performed, he was just happy to be back in with a chance to state his case for selection ahead of the start of the World Cup in February. “I felt like my life had been ruined,” Mustafa, who was formerly the vice-captain of the national team, said of his initial sentence.

“I wasn’t worried about the salary because my brother has a good job. But it was my father’s dream for me to play good cricket, first of all for Pakistan but then UAE. It was my dream to play in the World Cup. It is everyone’s dream to play in the World Cup, and I thought that had been taken away.”

Mustafa, 26, was the player of the tournament in the country’s leading A Division competition and is regarded as a potential successor to Khurram Khan as UAE captain.

His return to the fold is a major boost for the national team ahead of the coming challenges, according to the coach Aaqib.

“Mentally, he was away from the scenario,” Aaqib said.

“We have given him a bit of time to settle down and we wanted to give him one or two games against Afghanistan.

“He is a key player, a brilliant fielder, and a useful bowler who can bat also. Having Rohan back means we have a decent side who are fit enough.”

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM

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