Exclusive: Meet the UAE girls that beat boys in practice matches ahead of T20 World Cup qualifiers

UAE women's team players during a training session. (Supplied photos)
UAE women's team players during a training session. (Supplied photos)

The Chaya Mughal-led UAE will lock horns with Malaysia at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on Monday



by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 21 Nov 2021, 6:52 PM

Armed with hours of practice and warm-up matches against the boys, the UAE women’s cricket team are now ready to fight for the top honours at the ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier (November 22-28).

The Chaya Mughal-led UAE will lock horns with Malaysia in the opening game at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on Monday.

Only the top team in the six-team Asia Qualifier will advance to the final round of the qualifiers next year for the 2023 ICC T20 World Cup in South Africa.

But Mughal says the experience gained by the team while training with boys and playing matches against them will hold them in good stead at a qualifying tournament that also includes Hong Kong, Nepal, Bhutan and Kuwait.

UAE captain Chaya Mughal (second from right) before the start of a warm-up match against Bhutan in Ajman.
UAE captain Chaya Mughal (second from right) before the start of a warm-up match against Bhutan in Ajman.

“Despite the Covid, you know, thanks to the ECB, we've got plenty of matches to play, especially playing with the boys, the under 16 boys, has given us immense confidence and match scenarios and practices that we were looking forward to,” Mughal told Khaleej Times over the phone.

“Because of those matches, we are gaining this experience and we are very confident to play this tournament. So in terms of practices, we were having three sessions in a week and sometimes even four sessions in a week as we were approaching the tournament. So it was kind of really good, you know, for every individual.”

Mughal, who represented Jammu and Kashmir in Indian domestic tournaments before moving to Dubai, says they turned to the boys for training because there were not enough girls to train with and even beat them in warm-up matches.

“We wanted to practise and they were not enough girls to practise among ourselves. So that's why we wanted to like play with the under 16 boys. We played a lot of matches, and we've beaten them a number of times,” she said.

“We have gained the confidence to play those pace bowlers, you know, because the boys have the strength, everybody knows how hard they hit and how fast they bowl. So it was really good for us. We are good to go now.”

And Mughal doesn’t shy away from picking UAE as the title contenders in the tournament.

“Well, I feel like we are the top contenders in this tournament. You know, the girls that we have, the ones with experience plus the youngsters, we have a blend of both of it,” she said.

“So from the practice matches that we have played as a bowling unit and as a batting unit. I feel really confident. And I feel that we are the top contenders and I don't think there's any way that we can't qualify for this tournament (final round).

“So we are having high hopes. Yes, I could see that Nepal is a strong contender as well, but then we've beaten them once before. And I feel this somehow that we can do that again.”

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (C), Chamani Senevirathne, Esha Oza, Judit Peter, Kavisha Egodage, Khushi Sharma, Mahika Gaur, Natasha Cherriath, Priyanjali Jain, Samaira Dharnidharka, Subha Venkataraman, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh.

When: November 22-28

Where: ICC Academy grounds, Dubai

Teams: UAE, Bhutan, Malaysia, Kuwait, Nepal, Hong Kong

Who will qualify? The top team in the six-team tournament will earn a ticket to the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2022, the final round of qualifiers from which teams can book their places for the 2023 Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa.


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