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The Mahika Gaur Effect and the rise of UAE women’s cricket

On the day Mahika Gaur was announcing herself on the main stage of women’s international cricket, her ex-teammates with the UAE were also in action.

Had life not taken her in another direction, the wunderkind fast bowler might have been playing against Bhutan in Malaysia instead of for England in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The impact the former Dubai College schoolgirl has made since switching allegiances to England for their limited-overs series against Sri Lanka has been extraordinary.

She has been featured on the BBC and Sky, and made back page news in many of the UK’s daily newspapers. The English women’s game has been gripped by Mahika Mania.

But the side she left behind have been ticking along nicely in her absence, too. At the Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Kuala Lumpur, which took place at the same time as England v Sri Lanka in the UK, the national team enjoyed one of its finest moments yet in cricket.

By reaching the final, they achieved their main aim of making it to the global Qualifier, where they will compete for one of the final places on offer at the main event in Bangladesh.

When they got there, they did something they have been trying to do for years: they beat a Thailand side who had been blazing a trail through the sport on the continent for much of the past decade.

The UAE players would have loved to have shared their moment of triumph with their great friend. But the result just went to show that, even without the skill of their lost fast bowler, UAE women’s cricket is going places.

“First of all, we really miss her in our bunch,” said Vaishnave Mahesh, the 16-year-old leg spinner who was the UAE’s leading wicket-taker in Malaysia.

“We had a group of people who would meet up often and