UAE make 2018 WC qualifier semis

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Job well done: Ali Mirza (r)

The UAE moved one step closer to reaching the Under-19 2018 World Cup in New Zealand after they outclassed Oman by 179-runs to qualify for the semi-finals of the Division Two qualifiers yesterday.

Having reached 243-7 in their 50 overs thanks to a superb unbeaten 84-run knock from Ali Mirza, Dom Telo’s troops showed their strength with the ball by bowling out their Gulf neighbours for just 64 inside 30 overs.

All-rounder Fahad Choudhary was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with figures of 5-8 while Oman’s Praythyosh Sivakumar (11) was the only batsman to reach double figures.

The result means the UAE will now play either Malaysia or Singapore in Wednesday’s last-four clash with the winner not only qualifying for the final but also December’s Division One tournament in Sri Lanka, where places are up for grabs for the showpiece tournament.

With Choudhary and Mirza both impressing for the UAE, it was the latter who earned the man-of-the-match award.

“It feels very good to get this award. Words cannot describe how I feel right now,” said the 16-year-old, who trains at Young Talents Cricket Academy.

“We knew it was an important game where we needed to win to have a chance of qualifying for the next stage. We lost some wickets early on but the plan was to just stay at the wicket and remain calm because I knew the runs would eventually come.

“Oman have some very good bowlers, especially their pacers, so we had to be at the top of our game.”

Having posted above 200 for the first time, Mirza hailed the bowling unit especially Choudhary’s effort.

“Fahad played really well and really showed he’s a talented cricketer,” he said. “He scored some runs as well and it was a very good performance by him.”

It was the third victory for Mirza and his team-mates with their only loss on Malaysian soil coming against group leaders Hong Kong. But it was the second time, the UAE batted first in their innings.

Having chased scores of 49, 38, while being restricted to 159 (against Hong Kong), Mirza admits the batsmen need to step up their game if they want to advance to the final on Thursday.

“That’s one area we still need to improve,” he said. “We haven’t been getting off the mark, as we’ve been scoring 20-25 runs, so we need to convert those scores into 50s and 60s.”

Earlier, Choudhary (25) and Ansh Tandon (21) gave the UAE a perfect start with a 38-run opening stand but both fell to Moshin Qureshi inside 13 overs.

Mirza frustrated Oman in his 102 deliveries but despite a promising start, the rest of the batsmen failed to score big with vice-captain Sachin Jha and Choudhary (both 25), the second highest run-scorers.

Chasing, the UAE were always on top with Choudhary leading the attack while skipper Yodhin Punja, Ethisham Saddique, Sushain Thapar and Palaniapan Meiyappan all took one scalp each.

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Saddique focused on making it to Division One tournament

Denzil Pinto 30/09/2016
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Deadly form: Ethisham Saddique.

The 17-year-old fast-bowler was in lethal form with the ball, taking 4-20 in six overs as the UAE eased to their 38-run target inside 11 overs with nine wickets to spare.

It was his second top individual accolade after taking 3-13 in the nine-wicket triumph over Kuwait. He will be hoping to make it a hat-trick when the UAE face Oman in their final group today.

Victory over their neighbours will secure a place in the semi-finals and keep their hopes of reaching the Division One tournament in Sri Lanka later this year as they bid to qualify for the 2018 showpiece event in New Zealand.

“I’m very happy and excited to have done so well and win my second man of the match award,” said Saddique. “It’s a very important result for the team as we knew we had to win the game if we wanted to qualify. It’s my first time playing for the UAE in a tournament and today has been a memorable moment.”

Despite the big margin, Saddique never underestimated the opponents and stuck to his game plan.

“My aim was to bowl wicket-to-wicket as the pitch was a bit slippery. It made things difficult for the bowlers as well.”

Today’s opponents Oman sit in third place, two points behind the UAE after a shock defeat to Kuwait on Thursday.

While Saddique is wary of players in their team, he is confident his team-mates can end the group stage on a high.

“Oman is a big game and we have to win it,” he said. “We have worked hard over the last couple of months and we want to keep on doing well in this tournament.

“I’ve really enjoyed myself here and there will be good memories that I’ll cherish for a long time.

“But I want to create more and want to win this tournament and face better sides in Division One in Sri Lanka.”

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UAE U19s keep World Cup qualifying hopes alive

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Picture taken from UAE's warm-up win over Hong Kong.

A devastating nine-wicket win over Thailand has put the UAE back in the qualifying picture from Division Two World Cup qualifying in Malaysia.

Thailand were bowled out for just 37 batting first as 17-year-olds Ethisham Saddique (4-20), Sushain Thapar (2-1), Shah Faisal Khan (1-3) and captain Yodhin Punja (3-8) made light work of their opponents’ batting.

They skittled out their opponents in 17.1 overs to setup the win.

In reply, Ansh Tadoon (12) was the only casualty in the straightforwad run chase as Sachin Jha (19*)  and Thapar (1*) saw their team over the line with a mammoth 238 balls remaining in their innings.

It leaves the UAE second in Group B with four points from three matches after a win over Kuwait in their opener and defeat to table toppers Hong Kong second time out.

The top two from the group qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament but the UAE must now beat Oman in their final game to progress or hope that both Hong Kong and Oman slip up elsewhere if they are defeated by their Gulf neighbours.

UAE’s showdown with Oman takes place on Saturday at the Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur.

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