If I get a chance, I would love to play with Virat Kohli, says UAE star Rohan Mustafa
Associate cricket has been on the rise in the last few years. In a bid to globalize the sport the International Cricket Council(ICC) recently handed the T20I status to all cricket playing nations. United Arab Emirates(UAE) is one of the most important teams in ICC's Associate structure. Owing to the wonderful performances from their players, UAE earned the ODI status in 2014.
One of those players was Rohan Mustafa. Known for his all-round abilities, Rohan made his international debut in UAE's first ever one-day international against Scotland but his roller-coaster ride has been filled with a lot of emotions. He was born in Kohat in Pakistan but moved to the United Arab Emirates in his childhood.
"I moved to UAE in 2003. I was 10 years old or 11 years old. My father used to do a business of used cars in UAE. I started playing club cricket for Sharjah Cricket Academy. I never played hardball cricket in Pakistan till 12 years old. I started playing cricket two years after moving to UAE," said Rohan while speaking to Sportskeeda.
"When I moved to UAE it was quite hard, I lost my father when I was 14. It was hard to play cricket. If you live in UAE you have to be quite strong from background otherwise it’s not easy to play or you’ve to do a job and I was 14 so you know I wasn't doing a job at all." Rohan struggled at the early stage of his cricketing career but his resistance and positive approach to life helped him even after a major crisis.
"The crisis came in 2003-04 in UAE so my whole family moved to Pakistan but I stayed in Dubai. One of my brothers went to Chile for business. It was a hard time for me. I did a part-time job for a company and played cricket in the evening. You’ve to do it to support your family." These incidents in his life made him more determined, both, as a person and as a cricketer.
The 29-year-old all-rounder was a part of the Toronto Nationals in the recently concluded Global T20 Canada League. Rohan featured alongside the likes of Steve Smith, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard. "I didn’t play a single match in Toronto Nationals but it was quite a learning stage for me because I Was playing under some good players like Steve Smith who is a winner of world cup 2015 and Darren Sammy who is a two-time World T20 winning Captain."
"It was quite good learning from them. It wasn’t a good tournament for us but you can learn from mistakes if you don’t play good. We did a lot of mistakes and the pressure was on Darren Sammy but how he managed it, how was in the bus, dressing room, meeting, it was all a learning stage for me. If you get to participate in these type of tournaments you get to learn a lot from the senior players and legends," said Rohan.
"I think UAE cricket is growing up. You saw T10 last year. Two UAE players were there in each team. Emirates T20 is starting up. Few UAE players will also participate. It will be a learning experience for everyone. We have ODI status from last 5-6 years. Our cricket is growing up but still, I think if we improve our domestic structure our cricket will grow more. A lot more things like domestic cricket, festival tournaments, leagues will help us more," Rohan said when asked about UAE's cricket growth.
Later this year, six Asian teams will battle each other in the Asia Cup in UAE. One spot is up for grabs in the Asia Cup qualifiers which will be beginning from 30th August. "Asia Cup qualifier is a big tournament for us. We are on the strong side because we have quite good experienced players who have been performing for the last couple of years but still we can’t say anything about cricket because it’s unpredictable. Recently, you saw Scotland defeated England who are the number one side in the world."
"I’ll say that we will not take any team easy. Till now our preparations are very well done. We are leaving tonight for Malaysia. We have a few practice games there which will help us during the tournament. We have to concentrate on the basics rather than thinking about other teams." The United Arab Emirates are the favourites to qualify for the Asia Cup.
When asked about his inspirations, Rohan said, "When I started cricket I used to watch Saeed Anwar because I am also a left-handed batsman. I was quite inspired by him. In the later stage, Eoin Morgan, I am quite impressed with him. His batting and his aggressive captaincy. If I get a chance, I’ll love to play with Kohli because he is one of the best batsmen in the world right now."
"My most memorable game was against PNG, I scored a 100 and took five wickets. Only Viv Richards and Paul Collingwood had done it in the past so it was a quite memorable day for me. I think to be honest if I play for PSL or IPL it will be a great achievement for me. I want UAE to play another 50 over world cup by the end of my career, it will great for us and the youngsters as well."
Rohan's targets are crystal clear. He would love to feature in the IPL, till now, Chirag Suri is the only UAE player to have featured in the IPL. UAE will try to qualify for the 2023 World Cup which will be held in India.