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Rahul Bhatia thrilled to be called up to UAE squad for Asia Cup Qualifier

The 19-year-old is among the players in the 15-man squad

Denzil Pinto 2018/08/20

Teenager Rahul Bhatia says he was surprised to be called up to the UAE squad for the Asia Cup Qualifier but is relishing the challenge ahead in Malaysia.

The 19-year-old flew out with the senior squad to Malaysia on Sunday morning after making the 15-man squad. The Emirates Cricket Board publicly announced their squad on Saturday but Bhatia, like the rest of the players learnt they made the cut three weeks’ ago.

The left-arm spinner had been training with the senior cricketers for two months over the summer and is delighted to have proved his potential to the selectors.

“I really wasn’t expecting to be named in the squad to be honest,” he said. “When I heard the news, I didn’t really express myself but later I was really happy.

“I had only been training with the guys for two months and thought it would be a great experience just to be close to the senior guys and pick up tips here and there. I didn’t really expect to go to Malaysia but it’s something that I am looking forward to.”

The UAE have more than a week to acclimatise to conditions ahead of their opening game against Singapore on August 29. They will also face Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nepal and Oman for a place to rub shoulders with Asia’s elite when the main showpiece event is held in the UAE next month.

On his last visit to Malaysia, Bhatia was lethal with the ball and was named best bowler in the Under-19 Asia Cup Qualifiers. He hopes to bank on that experience with the senior side but even if he doesn’t play, he insists it will be a great learning curve.

“Of course my aim is to make a mark but I know how difficult it will be to make the team,” he added. “But having said that, any time I spend with the older guys in training will be valuable for me in developing as a player.”

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