A police officer, two marketing executives, three salesmen, four bankers and a flight attendant — welcome to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) World Cup team.
These part-timers will take on a team whose players with lucrative endorsements and contracts are at the other end of the sporting spectrum when they face India at Perth on Saturday. Associate teams are usually seen as making up the numbers and prolonging the event without adding much value to it. Although, the next edition assures only the eight top-ranked teams of direct berths, the weak teams have shown a lot of fight this time, with Ireland landing a blow for them by upsetting West Indies.
The UAE, playing in the World Cup after 19 years, are looking forward to facing the tournament’s biggest draw --India. “It’s a privilege to play against India, although we know well they have a great team with players of stature,” Mohammad Tauqir, UAE skipper, who is a bank official, told HT on Monday. UAE have two players of Indian origin, wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil with roots in Mumbai and Krishna Chandran, originally from Kerala.
Leading a team with no big name, future or fan following is not easy. The gulf in talent, skill and ambition makes it tough for a skipper to motivate such a team.
However, spinner Mohammad Tauqir (43) is not worried. “Leadership is always an inbuilt quality, it motivates me to bring the best out of my players,” he said.
Another senior member is former skipper and current vice-captain, Khurram Khan, 43. The left-arm spinner is a flight purser while pace bowler Fahad Alhashmi is a police official.
Skipper Tauqir is Arab while most other members are of Pakistan, Sri Lankan and Indian origin. “As a UAE national, I am proud and happy to lead the team. This World Cup will help us bring in more Emiratis to play cricket in the UAE as they will be watching us live on TV,” Tauqir said.
“Everyone has his own targets and goals,” he said. “But collectively, we want to register at least a couple of wins against Test teams. That’s our target.”