UAE’s task of reaching next month’s World Cup Qualifier became tougher as they fell to a second successive loss in the World Cricket League Division Two on Sunday, this time against Nepal.
In a match that was reduced to 34 overs after play was delayed by a wet outfield in Namibia, the UAE batsmen struggled at Windhoek. They only managed 114 with veteran batsman Shaiman Anwar top-scoring with 30 as Nepal’s 17-year-old spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane showed why he was bought by Delhi Daredevils in the IPL auction.
Lamichhane (3-30) took the key wickets of Anwar, Rameez Shahzad (4) and Muhammad Usman (0).
Nepal managed to cross the line with four wickets to spare despite being 20-3 at one stage. Skipper Paras Khadka led from the front, hitting 51 runs as Nepal reached their target in 28.5 overs.
The result leaves UAE third in the six-team standings on two points, two behind Nepal and four adrift of surprise leaders Canada (six). The Canadians defeated Kenya by 59 runs.
With the top two teams qualifying for March’s World Cup Qualifier, the UAE face must-win matches against Oman today and hosts Namibia on Wednesday.
UAE head coach Dougie Brown says their loss to Canada provided them with a timely wake-up call ahead of their crucial match against Nepal on Sunday.
The national team go into their World Cricket League Division Two match in Namibia on the back of Friday’s disappointing 23-run defeat to Canada despite looking on course for victory in their chase of 210. The UAE had thrashed Kenya by 218 run in their opening match on Thursday.
With three more matches to play, another negative result will leave the UAE with an uphill task of claiming one of the top two spots and a place in next month’s World Cup Qualifier.
And Brown insists if they want to book their flight to Zimbabwe, they cannot afford to put on another disappointing performance where only four batsmen reached double figures.
“I hope the defeat is a wake-up call,” said Brown. “It’s disappointing because it’s a game (Canada) that we really should have won. At one point being 120 to win and to come short is really disappointing. But with the way the results have gone in the last two days, we are exactly in the same position as we were in the first game of the competition.
“Now there are three games to go and it’s imperative that we put on strong performances for these matches. We can’t afford another blip like we had today.”
Captain Rohan Mustafa, who took five wickets in the Canada loss, admitted the players only had themselves to blame and vowed to return to winning ways and Brown expects no different.
“There are two ways that we can deal with this,” said the 48-year-old.
“We can sulk and point the finger at this and for that reason and make excuses. Or, we can come back as men and a team who are hungry and want to put things right which we didn’t do today. Knowing this bunch of lads, I’m sure they will come back and prove to people that it’s a blip and we have the best of our games ahead of us. We can’t afford to have another day like we had today.”
The former Warwickshire coach added: “Just for some reason we have managed to not deal with the pressure. We need to trust what we’re doing in training. We got most of the game right today but the thing that was important was from where we were in a match winning situation and just shows that if you can’t see the game to its conclusion, you won’t win matches.”
The UAE had gone into their match at Windhoek, Namibia, buoyed by an impressive 218 thrashing over Kenya on Thursday but they were unable to replicate the result against the Canadians.
Set 209 to win, the UAE would have fancied their chances of reaching the target but their batsmen struggled to make an impact. Only four players reached double figures, with Shabbir top-scoring with 55 from 92 deliveries.
Despite returning to the field after coming off for a thumb injury, skipper Mustafa was unable to save his team as the UAE were all out for 186.
Mustafa, who took 5-34 earlier in the game, lamented the batting performance but backed his team to bounce back strongly and keep their hopes of claiming the top two spots for the World Cup Qualifiers.
“The batsmen went for some shots which we should not have gone for,” said the 29-year-old. “I think it was easy to chase 209 and there was no big required run-rate. The boys should learn from that because we don’t have many more chances (if we want to qualify). We are all quite upset and I think we’ll come back hard.”
He added: “I think that not to reach 209 was quite frustrating for us as a team. The boys are really upset but we should not think too much about this defeat. We should think positively and forget the negativity of this game.”
The UAE will next face Nepal on Sunday.