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Homechevron_rightSportschevron_rightCricketchevron_rightRizwaan Rauf – the...

Rizwaan Rauf – the tale of a Kerala-born cricketer becoming UAE captain

Rizwaan Rauf – the tale of a Kerala-born cricketer becoming UAE captain

Rizwaan Rauf with Bukhatir (file photo)

The choice of Rizwaan Rauf as the new T20 captain of UAE has turned out to be wonderful news for all Tellicherrians, not merely in the UAE, but across the globe. Tellicherry (current name Thalassery) is a town where cricket was played in its infant days in India, and has ever since remained a breeding ground for scores of illustrious names in the game.

What makes news now is that it is the first time in history that a Keralite is leading an international side in cricket – a proud moment for Keralites in the UAE, and even for Indians in general who form the predominant segment of the expatriate population in the UAE.

Rizwaan, an engineering graduate from CUSAT, Cochin hails from Thalassery, in the northern district of Kannur. The town is reputed as the cradle of Kerala's cricket whose legacy dates back to the British era under Lord Wellesley.

Before coming to UAE he had represented Kerala state in different age groups. After being selected for Kerala Ranji Trophy probables, he had to take a break from cricket to complete his engineering. But when the Postal Department offered him a job in sports quota, he came to a crossroads of his life, for at the same time he got a lucrative job offer from UAE as well.

These offers definitely had put him in a dilemma: since he thought once he embarked on a flight to UAE, that would be the end of his dream of playing competitive cricket, but timely advice from a few former first class cricketers in UAE, especially of CTK Mashood, the former Kerala star and one who excelled in the game in the UAE as well, helped Rizwaan to reach a decision. That was how he opted for UAE to pursue a career in engineering together with his dream of playing International cricket.

Once in UAE with his bat, Rizwan did not look back. With his consistent all-round performances in all the major tournaments like KPL, KCL and Bukathir leagues, he impressed the entire cricket fraternity in the UAE. His introduction to Khalaf Bukhatir changed his fortune. It was then the turn of Khalaf, son of Abdul Rahman Bukhatir - known as father of UAE cricket - to take Rizwan under his wings; Bukhatir offered him a job in one of his firms to play cricket for his team. Rizwaan did not disappoint his boss either. He won many tournaments for his new team.

It did not take too long for Rizwan to come under the radar of UAE selectors. Finally in January 2019, Rizwaan became the second Keralite to play for UAE, afer Krishna Chandran Karate (called Kichu). It was the golden moment in his life. All of Tellicherry, his home town, celebrated that moment.

January 8, 2021 indeed was a historical moment for Thalassery cricket. Playing his 5th international match for the UAE, Rizwaan Rauf became the first Keralite to score an international century. His partnership with Usman won the match for his UAE team against a test playing nation Ireland.

Rizwaan's recent trip to USA with the UAE team earned him many accolades; he scored two half centuries there in three matches played. Finally his hard work and determination had paid off.

It was thus a well-deserved call for a player like him to lead UAE in the Asia Cup qualifiers being held in Oman from August 20, 2022. Rizwaan never fails to give the credits of his success to his parents especially his father Mr. Rauf and his wife Fathima, the latter sitting for several idle hours in the car waiting for him to come back from practice. He often mentions the sacrifices they made for him to be the cricketer that he is today. But more than them, he is ever grateful to Khalaf Bukhatir, without whose support and guidance nothing could have been possible.

Rizwaan though a happy man, realizes that it's a big burden and responsibility on him now, since he is very well aware of the passion Tellicherrians bear for the game and their excitement about, and expectation from him; so he can ill afford to disappoint them at all which so far he has not done.

Rizwaan, a very hard working cricketer came a long way to be where he is today. His first task is to make his team UAE qualify to play the T20 Asia cup against the big boys of India and Pakistan. If he can clinch that feat, his compatriots could witness a mind-blowing sight on 30th August 2022 - a dream come true for his fans from home town, to see a fellow Tellicherrian walking to the centre of a cricket pitch along with Indian Skipper Rohit Sharma to do the toss in an international match - a goosebumbs moment for all those spectators.

But for now, Rizwaan fans and UAE team's supporters alike are wishing Rizwaan and team UAE all the very best in Asia cup qualifiers.

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TAGS:century against IrelandCP Rizwaa RaufThalassery-born cricketerUAE cricket tem captainAsia Cup qualifier in OmanBukhatir
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