ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers: Key players suspended but UAE ready for Oman
Abu Dhabi - Skipper Ahmed Raza maintained that despite the latest development, the morale of the players' was high.
It will be a test of character as the UAE face Oman on the opening day of the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Just a day ahead of the headline event, the ICC suspended star names Mohammed Naveed, Shaiman Anwar and Qadeer Ahmed for breaching the anti-corruption code. The experienced trio, architects of many victories, got replaced in the squad by Junaid Siddique, Darius D'Silva and Waheed Ahmed.
The entire episode took the shine off the clean sweeps over the Netherlands and six out of eight T20 victories so far this year.
On the eve of the Group B clash, skipper Ahmed Raza maintained that despite the latest development, the morale of the players' was high.
"We have won both our warm-up games. Playing a day game in Dubai and a night one in Abu Dhabi has helped us know the conditions more. It was good to get those two games under our belt. The morale is high, especially after winning those warm-up games. We are pretty confident going into the tournament," he said.
Raza felt Omanis are a tough opponent but then there are no easy teams in the fray.
"It's all about playing the perfect cricket on the day," he said.
And the skipper hasn't made up his mind about the final squad.
Meanwhile, the team's head coach Dougie Brown is happy with his boys' displays as they have made winning games a habit.
"The warm-up games have gone down really well. All the players had an opportunity to showcase themselves and get some time in the middle. Winning is a habit. Those wins reinforce the training preparations we had for this tournament. We are looking for all of the same to continue in this tournament," he said.
Brown said playing a tough team like Oman, the unbeaten side in the home Pentangular series, was good for the UAE.
"Oman got good balance. They played pretty well before coming into this tournament. It all depends on who wins the first game of the tournament. It's all about sticking to your strategy, backing your players, trusting each other, making good decisions and applying your strengths. Oman have done that coming into this tournament. And so have we.
"So it will be a keenly contested contest. It's a tough game for both the teams. It's important that we, as the home side, start well. This is an opportunity to play one of the stronger teams at the start of the tournament," Brown added.