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'Future UAE star' Aayan Afzal Khan wants to take his side 'far ahead'

New Zealand captain Tim Southee says his side didn't learn from the mistakes they made in the first T20I

Ashish Pant
19-Aug-2023
The New Zealand batters had little clue against Aayan Afzal Khan's guile, UAE vs New Zealand, 2nd T20I, Dubai, August 19, 2023

The New Zealand batters had little clue against Aayan Afzal Khan's guile  •  Emirates Cricket Board

Aayan Afzal Khan did not have breakfast on the morning of the second T20I against New Zealand, and preferred sleeping before the game. In the evening, he feasted on New Zealand's top order to pick up 3 for 20 and set up UAE's first win over New Zealand across formats.
Bowling inside the powerplay, the 17-year-old left-arm spinner struck in his second over, castling Mitchell Santner with one that spun back to beat an attempted cut. The very next ball, he messed up Dane Cleaver's stumps and then had Chad Bowes stumped soon after. Of his three wickets, Santner's was the one Aayan said he enjoyed the most.
"Because that was a very good ball, and was also in the powerplay and was an important wicket," he said. "I am feeling very happy. I got a chance in the powerplay and I got a wicket. I was trying to get the batters out."
"He is a future UAE star," Muhammad Waseem, Aayan's captain, said of him. "And the biggest thing is that he never takes pressure no matter who he is bowling against."
But what about such big expectations at this a young age? Does that put any pressure? "Not much, really," Aayan said. "I am playing well now and will want to play like this in future as well. I want to take UAE far ahead. We have the capability to beat better teams in future."
Having restricted New Zealand to 142 for 8, it was then the turn of the batters to do what they could not in the first T20I. And, it was Waseem who led from the front by smashing a 29-ball 55. He was given two reprieves, but made sure by the time he eventually fell, his side was well ahead of the asking rate.
"I am very happy with my team's and my own performance," he said. "I always try that whenever we win, we do it convincingly and I make a big contribution towards it. I want to dedicate this win to my newly-born son."
Waseem also reserved praise for Asif Khan, who smashed an unbeaten 29-ball 48 in just his second T20I. Asif, 33, has impressive numbers in ODIs but made his T20I debut only in the first match of this series.
"He is a quality player," Waseem said. "He is unlucky that is he debuting so late but he has the experience. We were talking inside [the dressing room] that he has to finish the game and he promised me he would, and he has done it."
New Zealand captain Tim Southee, meanwhile, reckoned that his side didn't quite learn from their mistakes in the first T20I, with their batters once again coming up short. The visitors slipped to 38 for 4 and then 65 for 5 before Mark Chapman's 46-ball 63 rescued them somewhat.
"A lot of the credit has to go to the UAE team," Southee said. "They outplayed us in all three facets and we know in T20 cricket if it's not your day, then anything can happen. We probably didn't learn enough from the other day, we made a few mistakes that were similar to the other day and we were made to pay for that. We just have to be bettered in all three areas."

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo