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We are very excited ahead of the World Twenty20 Qualifier after a very good tour of Sri Lanka, where, even though we didn’t win every game, we played well in some of our matches.
Nobody knows what will happen in Twenty20 cricket – we are just all determined to do our best and all contribute whether it is with the bat, the ball or in the field. We were bitterly disappointed to miss out on qualification for next year’s 50-over World Cup, even though we did really well to progress through the World Cricket League, so people at home are really willing us to do well.
They want to watch us play on television in a big international tournament against the likes of England, India and South Africa. The Under-19 team had a chance to play on television during the Under-19 World Cup and the senior team wants to have a taste of the action as well.
We are a much more experienced team than when we played at the World Cup Qualifier last year. We owe a lot to our coach, Kabir Khan, and we have played so much cricket in the past year we feel more comfortable dealing with high pressure situations.
Our fielding has improved a lot compared to when we first played in the World Cricket League and our batting and bowling has developed as well.
I have always enjoyed playing Twenty20 cricket – it is a good challenge for a bowler and if I get the chance to bat I like hitting the ball a long way. I really enjoyed my innings at the ACC event last year when I hit 10 off the final two balls to win a match against the UAE.
The UAE is somewhere that I enjoy playing my cricket and I had a good record with the ball at the ACC Twenty20 last year. I like the wickets, I am used to the warm weather – it is similar to home – and I like spending time in Dubai. Our hotel is not very near any of the shops, but I would like to have a chance to go the shopping malls here if I can as I love to go shopping.
We are expecting to have lots of support, as there are lots of Afghan people living in the UAE, and lots of people came to watch us at the ACC event. I know that my hero, Andrew Flintoff, lives in Dubai and it would be my dream if he came to watch me play in one of the games this week and see me bowl. I have watched him play many times for England on the television, so it would be very special if he came to see me.
I am really looking forward to our first game. It will be a tough challenge on Tuesday against Ireland, who played very well to beat us in Sri Lanka, although some of our players were carrying injuries so perhaps we couldn’t fight as well as normal.
Even though we made a disappointing total, we made them work very hard for their runs, so we are still feeling confident for when we play them at Sports City. After all the preparation and warm-ups, I can’t wait for the action to begin.
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.