It would be fantastic to host 
India-Pakistan matches in UAE, says Abdul Rahman Falaknaz

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Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of Dubai Cricket Council
Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of Dubai Cricket Council

The Chairman of Dubai Cricket Council believes UAE could be the perfect neutral venue for the two countries


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021, 7:18 PM

When Abdul Rahman Falaknaz first played cricket here in UAE, ‘nobody had even heard the name of this sport.’ That was in 1958 when Falaknaz had come home on a holiday from Bombay (now Mumbai) and got his friends to play the game of cricket with him in Dubai.

More than six decades later, the fire still burns bright for Falaknaz. He still talks about cricket as passionately as he once played the sport for his school team in India.

Naturally, the Chairman of the Dubai Cricket Council couldn’t hide his joy when asked to reflect on UAE’s resounding success in hosting a cricket World Cup.

“First of all, as an Emirati, I’m very proud. You know, the most amazing thing is that an Arab country hosted a cricket World Cup. And this was not understood at all by anybody. Nobody even thought that there would be facilities in the Arab world to host cricket because cricket is not our game,” Falaknaz said while talking to local media in Dubai.

“But there are people who have played the game. I played in India. In fact, I played quite well for my school in (Bombay). My manager at that time said if I had stayed in India, I could have played for India. That’s what he told me when I was 16 years old!”

Falaknaz, whose brother-in-law, Sultan Zarawani, captained UAE in the 1996 World Cup, even offered to break the deadlock in India-Pakistan bilateral cricket ties. The two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours haven’t engaged in bilateral cricket duels since 2013, due to mounting political tensions.

But Falaknaz believes UAE could be the perfect neutral venue for the two countries.

“The best thing would be to get India-Pakistan matches here. When Sharjah used to host India and Pakistan all those years ago, it was like a war. But it was a good war, it was a sporting war and it was fantastic,” he said.

“I remember Raj Kapoor came once with his family. During the awards night, he took the mic and said, ‘how wonderful it is to have these India-Pakistan battles in Sharjah. Cricket brings people together, cricket has brought us together and let us remain this way’.

“So this is what we would like to do. If we can convince India to come and play here against Pakistan once a year or twice a year, it would be fantastic.”

Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor (right), his wife Krishnna (left) and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. (KT file photo)
Bollywood legend Raj Kapoor (right), his wife Krishnna (left) and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. (KT file photo)

IPL and Olympics

With the NBA making the ground-breaking announcement to bring their bandwagon to UAE for a couple of matches from next year, this country’s position as a global sporting hub was further enhanced.

Falaknaz says the Indian cricket board should take a leaf out of NBA’s book by hosting a few Indian Premier League (IPL) matches every year in UAE.

Having salvaged the Covid-stricken IPL last year as well as this year, UAE could still play a big role in the game’s biggest franchise league even after the world brings an end to the pandemic.

“It all depends on BCCI to decide what they want to do. We are very friendly with them. They have seen our potential. I would invite them to come and hold their IPL, start here and finish in India or start in India and finish in Dubai,” he said.

“And they have been looked after so well that they are very happy with us. I think we can still help and do what we can for cricket, as much as our friends want us to do, we will do it.”

While revealing his admiration for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the veteran Emirati sports administrator said the glorious success of the Expo 2020 Dubai has proved that UAE is also capable of hosting the Olympics.

“I was also in the UAE Olympic Committee for 13 years. You know, we would always like to be number one. Sheikh Mohammed wants to be number one, he doesn’t want to be number two. He says always that number one is remembered and number two is forgotten. You remember Roger Federer all the time, but you forget some other people who played with him. So yes, we are in a position to host the Olympics,” he said.

“I think we have the infrastructure, a little bit more will be required (to host an Olympics). But as you have seen, the infrastructure for Expo 2020 Dubai has been fantastic. Everybody is praising what they have done.”

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