UAE leg-spinner Imran Haider hopes to take more wickets in World Cup Qualifier

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Imran Haider

Imran Haider ranked his four-wicket haul against the West Indies as his career best but was disappointed it went in vain as the UAE fell to a 32-run loss in their World Cup Qualifier warm-up game on Thursday in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Haider, 30, took 4-16 as his leg-spin rattled the reigning World T20 champions. The Caribbean side, who has Chris Gayle in their ranks, were all out for 115 in 33 overs.

But the UAE were unable to seal a famous victory as slow left-arm orthodox bowler Nikita Miller finished with 5-20 as the Associate outfit were dismissed for just 83 runs.

Haider was disappointed at the result but is encouraged by how he is performing going into the World Cup Qualifier, which begins against Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

“To get four wickets is really good and it’s right up there among the best,” he said. “It has given me the confidence that I can do well in the World Cup Qualifier and hopefully I will get more chances to get more wickets when the tournament begins.

“But I’m disappointed we couldn’t get the win but I’m sure we’ll bounce back. I never play just for myself, I play for a team and we all have a part of play if we want to go far.”

The UAE have been drawn alongside West Indies, Ireland, Papua New Guinea and Netherlands in Group A, meaning they can look forward to another fixture against Gayle and Co.

The majority of the UAE players are playing in their first World Cup Qualifier including Haider who is relishing the opportunity of testing himself against some big names.

“We have some big matches coming up and it would be great if we could get a victory over a Test playing nation,” he said. “It’s going to be very interesting because in our two practice matches I don’t think there was much difference for any side. I’m excited to be part of the UAE squad and hopefully we can go to the World Cup.”

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Anil Kumble hands out prizes to winners at Shyam Bhatia Cricket Awards

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It was a night to remember for the winners of the Shyam Bhatia Cricket Awards as they received their accolades from one of the sport’s greatest icons, Anil Kumble in Dubai on Thursday night.

Kumble, the former Indian captain and head coach was the chief guest of honour at the 18th edition of the Awards, which recognises the achievements of players and officials over the past season in the UAE’s domestic game.

Altogether 16 awards were presented by India’s highest Test wicket-taker including, for the first-time, the Lifetime Achievement Award which was won by Abdul Rahman Bukhatir. He was instrumental in bringing international cricket to the UAE when Sharjah Cricket Stadium hosted ODI matches in the 1980s and played a prominent role in growing the game in the country.

The accolade was received on behalf of his son Waleed Bukhatir, Emirates Cricket Board member, who said: “To receive such a prestigious award – the lifetime award is very special. He was a cricket lover. He has brought cricket to not only Sharjah but to the region. Back then, some people said don’t waste your time developing a ground but his vision was beyond that. He wanted to get as many international matches as he could and now today Sharjah have staged the most ODIs stages worldwide.

“This is a very nice achievement and this journey will continue and hopefully many more internationals will be hosted.”

Among other winners were UAE internationals Rohan Mustafa and Adnan Mufti. UAE skipper Mustafa was awarded Best ‘A’ Division cricketer for Sharjah Cricket Council while his national team-mate Mufti won Dubai Cricket Council’s prize.

All-rounder Aryan Lakra picked up the Best Under-16 award for Dubai for the second straight year, while Anwer Khan (Abu Dhabi), Shoun Roger (Ajman) and Ansh Tandon (Sharjah) were winners of their respective councils.

For Tandon, he said the award was the icing on the cake after a dominant season that saw him score more than 4,500 runs as well as represent the UAE Under-16 and U-19 teams.

“It really feels great to have got this award,” he said. “I worked really hard over the season and it’s great that I have been able to receive my award from Anil Kumble who is one of the legends in the game.”

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Imran Haider's four-wicket haul goes in vain as UAE fall to West Indies

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The UAE was left to rue a poor batting performance after nearly causing a huge upset in their 32-run defeat to West Indies in a 2019 ICC World Cup Qualifiers warm-up game on Thursday.

At Zimbabwe’s Harare Sports Club, the UAE gained the upper hand on the two-time and reigning World T20 champions by bowling out them out for just 115 in 33 overs.

Pacer Mohammed Naveed (2-27) removed blistering batsmen Chris Gayle (16) and his opening partner Evin Lewis (10) but it was spinner Imran Haider who rattled the West Indians with figures of 4-16. Captain Rohan Mustafa (2-10) and Ahmed Raza (2-14) were the other bowlers to impress.

But in a rain-hit match, the UAE struggled with veteran spinner Nikita Miller doing the damage with the ball by taking 5-20.

Only four batsmen reached double figures with No.7 batsman Adnan Mufti top-scoring with 14 runs, while Kemar Roach took 3-15.

The UAE open their World Cup Qualifier campaign against Papua New Guinea on Sunday before meeting West Indies again on Tuesday. Netherlands and Ireland are also in Group A.

Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Nepal, Scotland and Zimbabwe make up Group B.

The top two sides in the 10-team tournament will advance to the 2019 World Cup in England.

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