The UAE could not have asked for a better start to their series against the Netherlands with Rohan Mustafa and Amjad Javed taking three wickets each to clinch a three-wicket victory yesterday.
All-rounders Mustafa, 28, and Javed, 37, used all their experience and skill with the ball to rattle the Dutch batsmen at the VRA Cricket Ground in Amstelveen.
Javed was the stand-out bowler with figures of 3-33, taking all of his scalps in nine deliveries, while skipper Mustafa finished with 3-41 as the Dutch were restricted to 182-8 in their 50-overs.
With a respectable target to reach, the tourists would’ve fancied their chances of chasing that score and they did exactly that, sealing the win in the 49th over with six balls to spare.
Middle-order batsman Mohammed Usman led the way with the bat, scoring an unbeaten half-century of 57 runs from 80 balls.
The result continued the UAE’s recent resurgence with their latest win being their ninth under head coach Dougie Brown since he was in charge as interim from February.
Prior to the game, Brown played down suggestions of his team being the favourites for the series and was fully wary of the Netherlands, who sit top of the World Cricket League Championship in this format.
Although they didn’t get any warm-up matches after arriving in the Dutch capital last week, it didn’t seem to have an effect on his team.
— Dougie Brown (@dougie1brown) July 17, 2017
Elected to bat first after winning the toss, the Netherlands got off to a shaky start with their top-order failing to click.
Javed removed three of their batsmen including experienced opener Stephan Myburgh (27), international debutant Asad Zulfiqar (15) and Ben Cooper (4).
Mustafa got into the act soon after, dismissing his opposite number Peter Borren (56), Saqib Zulfiqar (11) and Shane Snater (3).
There were also wickets for Qadeer Ahmed (1-34) and Mohammed Naveed (1-33).
For the UAE batsmen, Mustafa (34), wicketkeeper Ghulam Shabbir (23) and Rameez Shahzad (29) all played key roles while Netherlands’ Paul van Meekeren’s three wickets went in vein.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow before the series comes to a conclusion on Thursday.
UAE head coach Dougie Brown has urged his players to“play at the top of their game as a team” and adjust to conditions quickly if they want to seal a series win against the Netherlands.
The two nations meet on Monday in the first of the three-match 50-over series in Amsterdam with the tourists looking to continue their good form under Brown.
Under his helm as interim, the team won eight of 12 matches but face a stern test to add to that record with the Dutch sitting top of the 50-over World Cricket League Championship.
The UAE arrived on Wednesday and although heavy rain washed out practice for one day, Brown is hopeful his troops can “hit the ground running”. “We have to be flexible and make adjustments quickly,” said the 47-year-old.
“We have not played a match in these conditions but we have practised although that is different to playing. Time hasn’t allowed us to get much match practice under our belt so we’re going to have to make adjustments quickly.
“We have to be competitive in these conditions as practice is completely different to what you’re faced in match situations.”
The Dutch come into the game on the back of a 2-1 home series loss to Zimbabwe in this format but Brown is fully aware of the threats posed by the hosts.
“We are coming into someone else’s conditions and that will be a challenge,” he said. “But it’s a challenge that we are prepared for and I see it as an opportunity. We’re definitely not favourites. The Dutch are playing really good cricket. We know if we want to compete with them, we have to play at the top of our game as a team to win the series.”
Former UAE skipper Khurram Khan says he’s been impressed by Rohan Mustafa’s captaincy reign but expects the national team will face a stern test against the Netherlands next week.
Since Mustafa, 28, replaced Amjad Javed as the new captain in February, the team have rediscovered their form that once made them one of the best Associate sides.
Under Mustafa, they have won 10 out of 14 matches including victories of Scotland, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea on home soil.
Khurram, who ended his 14-year international stint two years ago, feels the side are now on the up and has hailed Mustafa for adapting to the role so swiftly.
“His performances were always there whether it’s batting or bowling,” said Khurram, 46.
“In the last couple of months since he took over, you can really see the difference he’s made in the team. He’s very energetic and very vocal in the team and keeps everyone together. He keeps them motivated and awake and with Dougie Brown (head coach) coming in, there is a big difference in the team.”
“Rohan’s young and that’s on his side. He’s definitely performing as well and the team are doing well and there’s no reason for him to stop. Let him continue as he has learnt very quickly.”
Head coach Dougie Brown will take charge of his first series since being appointed as full-time coach in May after serving a successful three-month stint earlier in the month.
They meet the Netherlands in a three-match 50-over series on Monday and Khurram feels although the squad is talented to keep their good run going, he
remains wary of the challenges.
“I would say with the conditions over there, then yeah (it will be a challenge),” he said. “We played PNG and Oman and the conditions were different. Netherlands have good bowlers and I think it will be a good test there.
“But we have been more consistent, are winning matches and the guys are performing well.”