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Esha Oza banks on home advantage to fire UAE's Women’s World Cup T20 Qualifier campaign

Esha Oza made a perfect start as the UAE women’s team captain. Opening the batting, she led from the front with a top score of 57 to win the Asia Cup Qualifier against hosts Malaysia by 37 runs in February.

Oza also topped the scoring charts with 229 runs and was named the Player of the Tournament.

That done and dusted, the India-born UAE cricketer will now have to step up for a bigger challenge – the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi from April 25 to May 7.

The UAE face Ireland in the opener in Group B, which also includes the Netherlands, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe. Group A is made up of Scotland, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda and the USA.

The top two from each group will advance into the semi-finals and the finalists will book their passage to the World Cup in Bangladesh in September and October.

Oza, 26, took over the reins from Chaya Mughal in the middle of a bilateral series against Namibia in September. She’s the most senior player on the side, having made her international debut for the UAE in the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in the Netherlands in 2018.

The UAE women’s team have come a long way since then, playing in many tournaments including two T20 World Cup Qualifiers and winning the Asia Region Qualifier, which they hosted in 2021.

“It's always great when you are preparing for a World Cup Qualifier, especially when the event is on home turf. We’ll have our families and friends behind us in support and that’s good enough for an out-and-out home advantage,” Oza told The National.

“Winning the Asia Cup Qualifier was a confidence booster but here we need to really step up against stronger teams. The teams in the qualifier play more on the bigger stages and have the experience but we will do our best.”