Exclusive: If we go to the World Cup, it will be a big step for UAE cricket, says Theertha Satish

The UAE team are confident of qualifying for the inaugural ICC Under 19 Women's T20 World Cup


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Members of the UAE under 19 team. (Supplied photo)
Members of the UAE under 19 team. (Supplied photo)

Published: Thu 2 Jun 2022, 4:27 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Jun 2022, 4:47 PM

Inspired by the senior team’s qualification for the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup, the UAE under-19 women’s team are now hoping to earn a slice of glory.

The Theertha Satish-led UAE will open their campaign in the ICC Under 19 Asia World Cup Qualifiers against Bhutan on Friday.

The winner of this six-team qualifying tournament will earn a place in the inaugural ICC Under 19 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in South Africa next year.

With a fantastic blend of youth and experience, the UAE squad featuring several players that already have the experience of playing for the senior women’s team, start as the big favourites for the top place in the qualifying tournament.

The 18-year-old Satish, a wicketkeeper-batter, says the girls are itching to hit the ground running in Malaysia.

“The team has worked really hard and our team has a great experience. The girls have put in a lot of work. So we are looking to win all the games, but we will be taking one game at a time,” said the Gems Modern Academy student.

“If we do go to the World Cup, it will be a big step for UAE cricket. It will be an important step towards UAE’s goal of achieving the ODI status in women’s cricket.”

Senior experience

Apart from skipper Satish, under 19 players like Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka, Indhuja Nandakumar and Vaishnave Mahesh have already represented the UAE at the senior level.

“I think it plays a huge role. I mean the amount of experience these girls have had at the senior level, it’s definitely going to help us in Malaysia,” Satish said.

UAE captain Theertha Satish (right) during a training session
UAE captain Theertha Satish (right) during a training session

“As a captain, I don’t feel like I am alone on the field. They have the experience, so they always give their input and they are very confident in what they do. Representing the UAE at the senior level, it has just given them more experience.”

What also helped the UAE women’s cricket was the FairBreak Invitational, an IPL-style T20 tournament that was held in Dubai last month.

Satish and her senior UAE squad teammates Kavisha Kumari, Esha Oza and Chaya Mughal got a rare opportunity to play in the high-profile tournament that saw the participation of superstars like Heather Knight, Stafanie Taylor, Suzie Bates and Sana Mir.

“I honestly feel it was an eye-opening experience. We learned so much about the game that we didn’t know and the standards of the game,” said Satish who played for the Falcons in the FairBreak Invitational.

“Now we know exactly what to work on, where to work on. It has helped us improve our thought processes.

“We are so grateful that it happened in the UAE and because of that lot of our other UAE players also were able to go as net bowlers.”

Pace sensation

Samaira Dharnidharka, a precocious 15-year-old pace bowler, the fastest bowler in UAE women’s cricket, was also invited to be a net bowler in the FairBreak Invitational.

Remarkably, Dharnidharka was first brought into the senior UAE team setup when she was just 10. Then at the age of 12, she made her senior UAE debut.

Samaira Dharnidharka, the UAE's fastest bowler
Samaira Dharnidharka, the UAE's fastest bowler

“I really thank the board and our coaching team for their support and commitment towards UAE women’s cricket. They have always been so encouraging to me and all the girls,” Dharnidharka, who wants to bowl scorching yorkers like Jasprit Bumrah, said.

“Now I want to help the under 19 team qualify for the World Cup. That’s my goal, I want to take as many wickets as I can and help the team win all the matches in Malaysia.”

Robin Singh’s impact

Indhuja Nandakumar, a 16-year-old bowling all-rounder, doffed her hat to the coaching staff for their tireless efforts in preparing the team for the big battle in Malaysia.

“They have helped us a lot. They have let us show our talent. Thanks to their guidance, we have been able to show what we can do,” said Nandakumar.

Bowling all-rounder Indhuja Nandakumar
Bowling all-rounder Indhuja Nandakumar

“Our head coach Najeeb Amar Sir has helped us immensely in our training and practice matches. And we have also learned so much from Robin Singh Sir (the director of cricket, Emirates Cricket Board).

“We have had many sessions with him. What we have learned from his experience has been great for all the girls.”

And Vaishnave Mahesh, the 15-year-old leg-spinner, understands the significance of the occasion in Malaysia.

Having dismissed a boy with a sharp leg-break on her first ball in a local match as a 12-year-old, earning praise from the event’s chief guest Anil Kumble, Mahesh knows the importance of grabbing the chance to make history in Malaysia.

Vaishnave Mahesh during a training session
Vaishnave Mahesh during a training session
Vaishnave Mahesh was only 12 when her skills impressed Anil Kumble
Vaishnave Mahesh was only 12 when her skills impressed Anil Kumble

“As a team, our ultimate goal is to participate in the World Cup next year in South Africa. We are very excited to represent the flag of the UAE, as ambassadors of the sport, the women’s game. We truly understand the magnitude of this tournament,” said Mahesh.

‘Boys have inspired us’

Siya Gokhale, a Gems Modern Academy student, says the under 19 girls are determined now to follow in the footsteps of the senior men’s team as well as the under-19 boys team that famously won the Plate Division final of the World Cup, beating Test-playing teams West Indies and Ireland in the semifinals and the final.

“The way the men’s team qualified for the World Cup was amazing. Then the under 19 team, they performed really well in the World Cup in the West Indies. The under 19 boys defeated the West Indies on their home ground! It was just an absolutely ecstatic feeling. So our under 19 girls are now really pumped up to keep the momentum going,” said Gokhale, the 15-year-old bowling all-rounder who can’t stop admiring the batting skills of Rohit Sharma and Nicola Carey.

Bowling all-rounder Siya Gokhale
Bowling all-rounder Siya Gokhale

“It’s a good mix of girls we have. We had a few good practice matches. It’s really exciting actually. Just the thrill among the girls to play on a global stage where you get to participate against some of the best teams in Asia, we all have this common dream of getting into that World Cup.

“The opportunity to represent the UAE on the global stage, I mean nothing beats that feeling.”

ICC Under 19 Asia Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers




June 3-9


6 (Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Qatar, Thailand, UAE)

How many teams will qualify for the World Cup?

1 (only the winner of the tournament)

When and where will the World Cup be held?

In South Africa next year

UAE’s fixtures in Malaysia

June 3: UAE v Bhutan

June 4: UAE v Nepal

June 6: UAE v Malaysia

June 7: UAE v Qatar

June 9: UAE v Thailand

UAE squad: Theertha Satish (C), Ishitha Zehra, Jia Bhatia, Sanchin Singh, Mahika Gaur, Rishitha Rajith, Lavanya Keny, Archara Supriya, Avanee Patil, Indhuja Nandakumar, Rinitha Rajith, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka

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