Chundangapoyil Puthiyapurayil Rizwan is living a dream. The 34-year-old from Thalassery is leading the UAE in the T20 Asia Cup qualifiers in Oman and became the first Kerala-born cricketer to captain a country in international tournaments.
“It is a huge honour to lead the UAE and a dream come true, something I yearned for when I started playing cricket. I am thankful to coach Robin Singh and the Emirates Cricket Board for reposing faith in me. The captaincy comes with a lot of responsibilities. I will try to do well to live up to the huge expectations,’’ he told The Hindu.
With his career going nowhere and his dream of representing Kerala in Ranji Trophy almost over, C.P. Rizwan took an important decision in 2014 to migrate to the UAE. Former Kerala Ranji Trophy player C.T.K. Mashood offered him an opportunity to play club cricket in Dubai, and Rizwan grabbed it with both hands.
An engineering graduate, Rizwan even sacrificed a secure Central government job to pursue his goal, and after toiling hard in the UAE domestic circuit for four years, he finally qualified to play for the country in ICC tournaments.
“I was tempted to go back when I landed the job in the postal department but decided to stay back as I thought I had a better chance of representing the UAE in international cricket. I do not have any regrets,’’ said Rizwan, who had represented Kerala in junior cricket.
He made his debut for the UAE against Nepal in 2019, but the breakthrough performance came in 2021 when he cracked a century against Ireland, a Test-playing nation, in a one-day international match in the UAE. Rizwan’s century enabled the UAE to gun down a huge total, and in the process, he became the first Kerala-born cricketer to score a century in international cricket.
“The century opened a world of opportunities for me. Suddenly, I became an overnight celebrity and was invited to a lot of functions here (the UAE) and at home in Thalassery. But I was not carried away as I practised hard and made every opportunity count,’’ said Rizwan, who will get a chance to play against India if the UAE wins the qualifiers.