UAE women eye World Cup berth after U19 boys' Asia Cup heroics

Siya Gokhale, a talented all-rounder, says true cricket fans will never call these results a fluke

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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(From left) Theertha Satish, Esha Oza (captain), Siya Gokhale, Al Maseera, Avanee Patil, Afsha Afzal Khan, sister of UAE under 19 captain Ayaan Afzal Khan, and Suraksha Kotte. — Photo by Rituraj Borkakoty
(From left) Theertha Satish, Esha Oza (captain), Siya Gokhale, Al Maseera, Avanee Patil, Afsha Afzal Khan, sister of UAE under 19 captain Ayaan Afzal Khan, and Suraksha Kotte. — Photo by Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Mon 18 Dec 2023, 11:01 AM

After the UAE’s stirring run to the final of the Under-19 Asia Cup, the country’s women’s team is itching to produce a giant-killing act of its own and qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup for the first time in history.

The UAE’s stunning win over Pakistan in the semifinals, just four days after their victory over Sri Lanka, inspired Theertha Satish so much that she rushed to the Dubai International Stadium to cheer for the team in Sunday’s final just a few hours after flying back from India.

“I flew in just today (Sunday), but this was a game that I could not miss out. So I came with my teammates,” the talented wicketkeeper-batter of the UAE women’s team told the Khaleej Times.

The UAE eventually lost the final to Bangladesh by a big margin, but they made a big statement with their performances in the tournament.

“I think it’s a big achievement (to reach the final). It shows that associate nations can beat Test-playing nations as well,” said Theertha.

“I think we can take inspiration from them. We are going to the Global T20 World Cup qualifiers, hopefully we can qualify as well.”

Esha Oza, captain of the UAE women’s team, had goosebumps when the UAE shocked Pakistan in a low-scoring semifinal on Friday.

“That moment when they got the final wicket and the celebrations, I think we can all relate to that. It was very inspiring,” she said.

“Beating two Test-nations and coming up to the final, it’s a great achievement. They are only an under-19 team, but they are an inspiration to us.”

Esha said the boys' team proved that anything is possible in cricket.

"It's a big motivation for us to do well in the Global Qualifiers for the World Cup in March (2024). Only two teams will qualify from the 10-team tournament. It's going to be a big challenge, but as the boys have shown us, anything is possible," she said.

Siya Gokhale, a talented all-rounder, says true cricket fans will never call these results a fluke.

“I think no matches are won by fluke. Of course, teams can have good days and bad, but I don’t think a win is ever a fluke, there is a lot of effort that goes in. I think it’s the result of what they have been doing so far,” Siya said before hailing the efforts of the coaches at the grassroots level.

“Domestic tournaments and coaches at junior level have helped us here a lot. Whatever you do there, it’s reflected in the national team.”

Suraksha Kotte, a 20-year-old off-spinner, echoed Siya.

“We have seen how hard these boys train in net sessions. It’s quite amazing how far they have come. And we have been truly inspired by their performances,” she said.

Suraksha feels women’s cricket in the UAE has come a long way.

“There has been a lot of changes especially after our former captain Chaya Mughal took up the new role as Women’s Cricket Development Officer," she said.

“Thanks to her efforts, we see more girls from schools playing cricket. That’s really heart-warming.”

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