UAE reach World Cup Qualifiers with 19-run victory over hosts Namibia

Denzil Pinto 14/02/2018
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Important runs: Shaiman Anwar

A vital century-stand between Shaiman Anwar and Muhammad Usman proved to be the difference as the UAE booked their spot in next month’s World Cup Qualifier with a tense 19-run victory over Namibia.

The national team knew exactly what was required before a ball was even bowled. A win in their last World Cricket League Division Two clash would seal their passage to the 2019 showpiece final qualifying event in Zimbabwe.

It didn’t start off brightly at Windhoek with openers Ashfaq Ahmed and Rohan Mustafa dismissed with just 22 on the board. But 38-year-old Anwar used all his experience to form a 120-run partnership with Usman that propelled them to 247-6.

In that crucial stand, Anwar hit 77 runs including five boundaries and three sixes off 59 deliveries while Usman scored 59 (two sixes and three fours).

Defending 248, the hosts Namibia were already 33-2 inside seven overs. Gerhard Erasmus (58) and Craig Williams (54) gave them hope but although the match was briefly stopped due to rain, the rest of the batsmen could not cope with UAE’s bowling attack as skipper Rohan Mustafa and Amir Hayat each took three wickets.

For Mustafa, he praised his players for the way they bounced back in the competition after successive losses to Nepal and Canada earlier in the week.

“Everyone is feeling really happy to have won the game and to still be in contention for the World Cup,” said the 29-year-old. “We nearly exited the tournament but to now qualify is a tremendous achievement.

“There were a lot of the guys under pressure to perform and I have to give full credit to every player in this squad because we continued to press and play to our potential on the field.”

The victory not only saw them reach the event to be held in Zimbabwe but also means the UAE have retained their ODI status.

Mustafa’s side can end the competition on a high on Thursday when they take on league leaders Nepal in the final. Although both sides have qualified, the result will determine which group they will be placed in at the Qualifier tournament.

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Ravichandran Ashwin's Dubai masterclass sessions an opportunity to learn from the best

Denzil Pinto 14/02/2018
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The spin of art: Ravichandran Ashwin (right)

Budding cricketers in the UAE will have a chance to pick the brains of India star Ravichandran Ashwin during a special master class session in Dubai this weekend.

The 30-year-old will be passing on his knowledge and expertise to the youngsters on Friday and Saturday at Gen-Next Kings’ Cricket Academy, which partnered with his own Gen-Next Cricket Academy in Chennai.

It will not be the first time he will be teaching the UAE’s stars of tomorrow after he held a similar masterclass during the official launch in October.

A key player of the national team, Ashwin has plenty of experience. In 214 international matches,  he has taken 513 wickets as well as 26 five-wicket hauls, while scoring nearly 3,000 runs.

This weekend’s classes are open for aspiring players of other abilities and Russell Sissing, head coach at Gen-Next Kings’ Cricket Academy is convinced there are plenty of reasons on why kids should join.

“It really is a huge privilege to have someone like Ravichandran Ashwin come to Dubai and offer some masterclasses,” said the South African.

“It’s a chance for kids to get up close to an international star. Every cricketer has a story and not only will he share his tips to the players, it’s a chance to understand what preparations international cricketers do for matches.”

He added: “Ravi Ashwin is a world-class player who has had an immense career so far and will offer a lot of insight on what is needed to enhance their game.”

Registration costs Dh450 per person. Classes on Friday will be 17:00 to 19:00 and Saturday from 09:30 to 12:30. Both will be held at Kings’ School Al Barsha, where the academy is situated.

For more information, contact Derick D’Souza at 055 719 7615.

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UAE will play their A game in must-win match against Namibia, says Ahmed Raza

Denzil Pinto 13/02/2018
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Ahmed Raza insists the UAE cannot afford to play any other way but their ‘A game’ if they want to beat hosts Namibia and reach next month’s World Cup Qualifier.

The national team enter their final group game knowing victory against the hosts on Wednesday will secure a top-two finish in the tournament and most importantly a place in the final 2019 World Cup qualifying competition in Zimbabwe.

Even if they win, they could be denied if the clash between Canada and Nepal, the top two sides with six points each in the competition, is abandoned or tied.

But Raza says the UAE must concentrate on themselves and focus on achieving their objective of progressing to the qualifying round next month.

“We know the consequences and know the pressure and it’s a game that is big for us,” said Raza, who took 2-16 in the 46-run victory against Oman on Monday.

“We just have to go out there and play our A game. It’s a big game that we have to win and we just have to go out there are do our job.”

Wednesday’s clash will be the fifth time the UAE and Namibia have met in the last 13 months. The UAE triumphed in last January’s Desert T20 before coming out on top in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup in September. They then followed it up with a loss and win in the 50-over game.

The match for Namibia will be even more significant after their eight-wicket triumph on Tuesday – a result that put them second in the standings.

“We have got a decent record against Namibia and it’s about applying the pressure to them – just like how we did against Oman,” he said. “It’s all about working in pairs and in working in partnerships. We know the job we need to do and will do everything we can to win the game.”

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