Rohan Mustafa's superb all-round display helps UAE reach Asia Cup Qualifier final

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Rohan Mustafa (left) top-scored for the UAE on Tuesday. Image: Asian Cricket Council

The UAE took one step closer to reaching the Asia Cup after a tense 13-run victory over Oman set up a final with Hong Kong on Thursday.

The UAE went into Tuesday’s game knowing a win over their Gulf neighbours would guarantee them a place in the title decider and they did exactly that in Kuala Lumpur.

Batting in damp conditions, most of the batsmen struggled but captain Rohan Mustafa led from the front as he hit 71 from 104 deliveries to help the UAE post 208 in their 50 overs. Mustafa’s knock was crucial considering the second highest score was Ashfaq Ahmed’s 24.

It was their lowest total when batting first in the Asia Cup Qualifier but that did not matter as the bowlers did their job with the ball.

Mustafa did more damage with the ball, taking 2-31 and joined Mohammad Naveed (2-51) and Amir Hayat (2-48) among the wicket-takers.

Spinner Ahmed Raza claimed one scalp before Shaiman Anwar wrapped up the win when he dismissed Bilal Khan as Oman were all out for 195 in the 47th over.

The result means UAE finish top of the group standings with eight points, ahead of Hong Kong, who sealed their final berth on run-rate after they finished level on points with Oman.

Should the UAE win on Thursday against Hong Kong, they will qualify for the Asia Cup which will be held in the Emirates later this month.

And Mustafa believes they are on the right track going into the game although he wants his batsmen to step up.

“It was a great performance by everyone. It was hard wicket to bat on in the morning but come the afternoon, there was nothing in it. The guys did very well and they helped us a lot,” said the all-rounder.

He added: “We need to improve in the middle-order because they are not scoring as many runs as they should be. We have Shaiman, Rameez and Usman who are very good batsmen and they need to start scoring. The good sides have their middle-order batsmen performing and we need to do the same.”

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UAE set to become centre of the cricketing universe with jam-packed schedule

Alex Broun 3/09/2018
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Luke Ronchi batting for the Punjabi Legends in last year's T10 League.

The UAE is set to become the centre of the cricket universe over the next six months as not one, not two, not three, not four but five different T20 tournaments, a T10 tournament, the Asia Cup and the Australia-Pakistan series take over cricket pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

It’s certainly exciting for local cricket lovers who will get a chance to see some of the world’s best up-close-and-personal, but is all this cricket in danger of killing the white-ball goose?

Here’s a rundown of all the tournaments so you can start working out your cricket watching schedule.

Asia Cup

Format: ODIs

Teams: 6 (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Qualifier)

Dates: September 15 – 28

Big names: Rohit Sharma, Rashid Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, MS Dhoni, Angelo Mathews, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dinesh Chandimal (but not Virat Kohli*)

Venues: Dubai, Abu Dhabi

This will be the 14th edition of the Asia Cup and the third time the tournament will be played in the UAE, after the 1984 and 1995 editions. India are the defending champions.

Pakistan latest series on UAE soil

Format: Tests, T20s, ODIs

Teams: 3 (Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand)

Dates: September 29 – December 7

Big names: Sarfraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Kane Williamson, Mitchell Marsh, Trent Boult, Ross Taylor, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon

Venues: Dubai, Sharjah, Pakistan

Pakistan start the season with next month’s Asia Cup in the UAE from September 15 and they will then host Australia for two Tests and three T20I clashes between October 7-28.

This will be Australia’s first Test series since the infamous ball-tampering row in Cape Town in March. Following the matches against the Baggy Green, Pakistan will host New Zealand for three T20Is, three ODIs and three Tests, taking place from October 31-December 7. Pakistan have been forced to play their matches in the UAE since terrorists attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

Afghanistan Premier League (APL)

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 5 (Balkh, Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia)

Dates: October 5 to 23

Big names: Rashid Khan, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Brendon McCullum

Venue: Sharjah

Run by the Afghanistan Cricket Board the tournament will feature up to 40 overseas players. Five teams have been selected to compete, named after regions of Afghanistan. In its first year, the ICC only approved plans for the tournament in August 2018 but there are big hopes for this new competition which is expected to be the second most watched in India after the IPL.

Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 6 (Boost Defenders, Afghanistan; Hobart Hurricanes, Australia; Lahore Qalandars, Pakistan; Titans, South Africa; Yorkshire Vikings, England; UAE team)

Dates: October 2018

Big names: George Bailey, Tymal Mills, Chris Lynn, Fakhar Zaman, Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi, Kane Williamson, Gary Ballance, Albie Morkel, Chris Gayle

Venue: Abu Dhabi

This new franchise cricket tournament features five of the best teams from leagues around the world, including the Big Bash League, the Pakistan Super League and the T20 Blast, brought together for an international contest to be played exclusively in Abu Dhabi.

T10 League

Format: 10 overs per side

Teams: 8 (Kerala Kings, Punjabi Legends, Northern Warriors, Maratha Arabians, Pakhtoon Team, Bengal Tigers, Karachians, Rajputs)

Dates: November 23 – TBC

Big names: Shane Watson, Eoin Morgan, Kieron Pollard, Rashid Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sunil Narine, Darren Sammy, Brendon McCullum

Venue: Sharjah

Now in its second year, T10 is the first-ever internationally approved 10-over league. The duration of a match is 90 minutes and the tournament is played over four days, with a round-robin league followed by semi-finals and the final. Lots of big names have signed up ready to go hard or go home.

UAE T20X

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 5 (TBC)

Dates: December 19, 2019 to January 21, 2019

Big names: Andre Russell, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, AB de Villiers (non-playing ambassador)

Venues: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah

The UAE’s very own ambitious, big-money T20 league. Set to provide a welcome boost to cricket in the region as playing squads have to consist of four local emerging and junior players, three ICC Associate Member players and three UAE national team players – as well as a host of international stars.

England captain Eoin Morgan is the most well-known cricketer signed up to date.

Pakistan Super League (PSL)

Format: 20 overs per side

Teams: 6 (Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalanders, Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators)

Dates: January 2019

Big names: Misbah-ul-Haq, Imad Wasim, Brendon McCullum, Shoaib Malik, Darren Sammy, Sarfraz Ahmed, AB de Villiers (rumour)

Venues: Dubai, Sharjah, Pakistan

A franchise T20 league established by the Pakistan Cricket Board in 2015. In 2017 it featured six teams, expanding from the previous five. In 2019 eight or more games will be held in Pakistan, with Lahore, Karachi, and another yet to be decided venue to host. The remaining games will be held in the UAE as in previous seasons.

Cricket players of Islamabad United celebrate their victory at the end of the Pakistan Super League final match between Peshawar Zalmi and Islamabad United at the National Cricket Stadium in Karachi on March 25, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM        (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

Islamabad United celebrate victory in Karachi earlier this year.

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All Blacks to take on Black Caps in charity T20 match

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All Blacks skipper Kieran Read will lead the side in the charity T20 match.

The Black Caps and All Blacks will go head-to-head early next year in a T20 match to be held at Christchurch, all for charity.

Former New Zealand skippers Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Grant Elliot and Luke Ronchi are some of the names who will turn out for the Black Caps in the charity match.

The All Blacks, meanwhile, will be captained by Kieran Read with the likes of Richie McCaw, Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Israel Dagg appearing for the match.

The money raised by the charity match will go to the benevolent funds of the rugby and cricket associations of New Zealand.

Read, who is currently the skipper of the All Blacks, has played age-group cricket for Northern Districts previously and has admitted to being slightly nervous for the match.

“I’m going to be a bit nervous, to be honest,” Read told Stuff.co.nz.

McCullum and Fleming will turn out for the Blackcaps.

McCullum and Fleming will turn out for the Black Caps.

“You lose your hand-eye co-ordination pretty quickly in this game. I’ll have to get out and hit a few balls to get my eye back in.”

Stephen Fleming will lead the professional cricketers in the game and he is expecting a tough fight from the All Blacks.

“I thought if we had the opportunity with a brand as big as the All Blacks, it would pique my interest,” Fleming had told the Herald on Sunday.

“We’re putting our reputations on the line here. We know just how good the likes of Kieran and his rugby mates are at cricket. They’re exceptional athletes and many of them could have been international cricketers had they chosen another path. So we’re on high alert, that’s for sure.”

The charity T20 match is slated to be held in the early part of 2019.

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