Exclusive: Tears of joy for UAE girls after qualifying for U19 T20 World Cup

The UAE qualified for the inaugural ICC T20 Women's World Cup by winning the Asian qualifying tournament in Malaysia on Thursday

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The UAE players celebrate with the trophy. (ICC website)
The UAE players celebrate with the trophy. (ICC website)

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 9:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 9:50 PM

Having juggled the demands of appearing for exams with hours of practice on the field before flying to Malaysia for a place in next year’s inaugural ICC Under 19 Women’s T20 World Cup, the UAE girls cried tears of joy on Thursday.

Their dream of getting into a World Cup had just turned into a glorious reality after the winning runs were hit against Thailand on Thursday, their fifth straight win in the Asian qualifying tournament in Malaysia.

With both teams coming into Thursday’s final league match on the back of four consecutive wins, the UAE faced a do-or-die clash against Thailand to qualify for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

But Thailand, who were restricted to 84 for eight, had no answer to UAE’s all-round brilliance as captain Theertha Satish (38 not out off 38 balls) led from the front to take the team home in just 17.1 overs, scripting a six-wicket victory.

“We came here with a goal. It’s very satisfying to have achieved that goal of qualifying for the World Cup,” Satish told Khaleej Times from Malaysia, hours after her team’s historic win.

“Everyone in the team is super happy and super excited. Everyone is enjoying the moment. I am so happy to see the girls happy. Almost all of the girls cried after the win. It was a very emotional moment for all of us.”

The 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, already an established player in the UAE senior team, doffed her hat to the coaching team for their incredible support.

“It’s a really proud moment for me personally (as a captain). But I really could not have done it without the team’s support and the support of the coaches. It’s a great team and I have been grateful to all of them, for being able to play alongside these girls,” she said.

“And as the batter going in, I just wanted to win the game (against Thailand). And I am grateful to have achieved the goal that I have set for myself. But that situation could only come because of the bowling effort and the fielding effort as well.”

The team’s bowling attack put every team to the sword in Malaysia, with Nepal being their worst victim.

In the second league match on June 4, the UAE girls hit global headlines by bowling Nepal out for a mere 8 runs.

On Thursday, the bowlers rose to the occasion again, restricting Thailand to a modest score, with Mahika Gaur (2/11), Vaishnave Mahesh (2/16), Avanee Patil (1/6) and Indhuja Nandakumar (1/16) breaking the back of the Thai batting.

“Yes, the bowling unit has been great throughout the tournament. They have been very consistent and that’s because of the hard work and the effort that they have put in in the training sessions,” Satish said.

“Also, all the experience they have had through their cricketing journey have helped them a lot to reach where they are now,” the skipper added, referring to several under-19 players’ experience of playing for the senior national team.

Big boost

The Under 19 team’s World Cup qualification is another big boost for UAE cricket this year after the senior men’s squad earned their place in 2022 ICC T20 Men’s World Cup.

The boys had also written their name in the history books by winning the Plate Division title in the Under 19 World Cup this year, beating Test-playing teams West Indies and Ireland in the semifinal and the final.

Vaishnave Mahesh, one of the key players in Malaysia, said following in the footsteps of the senior men’s team as well as the under 19 boys was a dream come true.

“Obviously, qualifying for the World Cup, the feeling is surreal. I am feeling really, really happy today. I just don’t know how to express it because everything feels like a dream right now. Yes, it was a big dream for us to get into the World Cup,” the 15-year-old leg-spinner told Khaleej Times.

Indhuja Nandakumar, a 16-year-old bowling all-rounder, says they now can’t wait to test themselves against the best players in the World Cup.

“Of course, the girls are now very excited to play against the best teams in the World Cup next year. And we are going to work really hard to do our best in the World Cup, just like we did in the qualifying tournament,” she said.

And Samaira Dharnidharka urged the team to dream big.

“Having the opportunity to play in the big league (World Cup) will give us unparalleled exposure and I am looking forward to experiencing it all,” the 15-year-old pace sensation said.

“In preparation, I will keep hitting the deck in the practice sessions and will continue to work on my batting strokes. As someone once said and I agree, not all dreamers are winners, but all winners are dreamers!”

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