UAE send out 'strong message' despite losing World Cup qualifier to West Indies, says Rameez Shahzad

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Rameez Shahzad

Centurion Rameez Shahzad insists the UAE have ‘sent out a message to the rest of the teams’ of how dangerous they can be after they produced a battling effort with the bat in their 60-run World Cup Qualifier defeat to West Indies.

The UAE faced an uphill task of winning the match at Harare when tons from Chris Gayle (123) and Shimron Hetmyer (127) saw the West Indies set a mammoth total of 357-4 in their 50 overs.

Gayle rediscovered his form that has made him one of the most feared batsmen in the world scoring 123 form 91 deliveries including 11 sixes and seven fours. Hetmyer was even better with his knock coming from 93 balls (14 fours and four sixes).

But despite the gigantic target, the UAE pushed the two-time world champions all the way with Shahzad scoring an unbeaten 112 (nine fours and four sixes) as they reached 297-6.

West Indies captain Jason Holder took his second ODI five-wicket haul but he had no answer to Shahzad who was instrumental at the crease, sharing a 144-run stand with Shaiman Anwar (64) after the UAE found themselves 69-3.

Despite the result, Shahzad feels the UAE can take a lot of positives from how they performed against the Caribbean side.

“It was a good wicket to bat on but at the same time they were bowling really well,” he said. “Once me and Shaiman kept going, our plan was to go until the 35th over but then was given out and so did (Mohammad) Usman.

“We then had to change our plan to try and make sure we get as close to the total and maintain a good run-rate.”

He added: “But we can take a lot of heart from how we played. We are talking about a performance against a Test-playing nation and two-time World Cup winners. We have gone so close to winning twice against them that if Gayle didn’t bat the way he did today and who knows the result might have been different.

“The most important thing is that this sends out a message to the rest of the teams in this competition that we are not just here to compete but to win matches.”

The UAE will look to get back to winning ways and boost their qualification to the Super Six stage with victory over Netherlands on Thursday.

In other results on Tuesday, Afghanistan (194 all out) suffered their second straight defeat after losing by two runs to hosts Zimbabwe (196), while Ireland (237-6) came out on top by four wickets against Papua New Guinea (235). Scotland (92-6) beat Hong Kong (91 all out) by four wickets in the other fixture.

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UAE's Mohammad Naveed aiming to claim wickets of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels

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Mohammad Naveed (centre)

Following his five-wicket haul on Sunday, Mohammad Naveed has warned West Indies batsmen ‘to be in for a hard time’ with the pacer targeting the wickets of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels.

Naveed was in sensational form with the ball, claiming his maiden ODI five-four with figures of 5-28 in the UAE’s 56-run (D/L method) victory in their opening game of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

That achievement is even more remarkable considering he battled through the pain barrier after having three stitches to his left hand following a training accident.

Now the 30-year-old is eager to add to his tally for the tournament. Next up is reigning World T20 champions West Indies on Tuesday and he has set his sights on two of their batsmen – Gayle and Samuels.

Just on Thursday, Naveed dismissed Gayle in their warm-up game and says there’s no reason why can’t do the same again.

“I’m really happy to claim five wickets and that too considering it’s our first match of the tournament,” he said. “Although the conditions are a little different to the UAE, I was getting a lot of swing on these wickets and I’m especially hungry to build on this and get more wickets for the UAE.”

He added: “West Indies have a lot of fantastic players in their team but Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels are my targets. It would be a dream to get those two out because they are key batsmen who can get the runs. As a fan, I enjoy watching Chris Gayle because on his day, there’s no-one better than him. He’s one of the best batsmen in the world. It was a great feeling to get him out on Thursday but to do it again in the World Cup Qualifier would be special.”

In that 32-run defeat, the UAE impressed by bowling the Caribbean side out for 115 but batsmen struggled with four batsmen reaching double figures including top-scorer Adnan Mufti (14).

But Naveed insists they can be encouraged by how they bounced back against Papua New Guinea and is confident they will not make the same errors again.

“Amir Hayat bowled very well and so did Imran Haider. Our batsmen showed they can get the runs on a difficult wicket and I’m sure that against West Indies we can do well against them. We made mistakes last time but I’m sure we will not do those again on Tuesday.”

For UAE captain Rohan Mustafa, he warned the West Indies not to expect an easy ride.

“I believe they have to be afraid of us. The toss will be important as it will for the rest of the matches but we can beat them. We will play hard and give tough time to them,” he said.

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Rohan Mustafa and Mohammad Naveed must make experience count and other talking points as UAE gear up for ICC World Cup Qualifier

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Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar.

The UAE open their ICC World Cup Qualifier campaign on Sunday against Papua New Guinea. They are among 10 nations vying for the two berths for the 2019 World Cup with Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Hong Kong and Nepal also in action.

Here are the talking points as the UAE prepare for battle.

EXPERIENCED PLAYERS NEED TO STEP UP

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammad Naveed, Shaiman Anwar and Chirag Suri – these are the players who were involved the last time the UAE played in a World Cup Qualifier in 2014. They reached their target in New Zealand, claiming the top two spots to book their place in the 2015 showpiece event. All four apart from Suri have regularly been involved in the national set-up since then and between them have more than 550 caps.

With the majority of the players experiencing their first World Cup Qualifier, it will be up to the quartet to step up and make their experience count.

They did that during the World Cricket League Division Two that took them to the Qualifier and will need to do the same in Zimbabwe.

Leader: Rohan Mustafa

Rohan Mustafa must lead the way.

BATTING IMPROVEMENT

The 32-run defeat to West Indies on Thursday was another instance where the UAE only had themselves to blame for their defeat. Set a target of 116, the batsmen struggled before being all out for 83 and that is no surprise.

In their eight previous matches, six half-centuries and a century has been scored with those coming from four players – Ghulam Shabbir (two fifties), Ashfaq Ahmed (one century and fifty), Rohan Mustafa (two fifties) and Rameez Shahzad (fifty). The batsmen have to raise their game and concentrate on building partnerships. Bowlers alone cannot win every game.

UAE will rely on Shabbir for runs.

UAE will rely on Shabbir for runs.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RETAINING ODI STATUS

It’s more than just a World Cup qualifying tournament where the top two sides will reach the 2019 showpiece event. While the likes of Ireland and West Indies are already assured of ODI status, that privilege is something that the UAE will be playing for this week.

Head coach Dougie Brown has revealed ODI status and retaining ICC funding is the primary objective and not qualification, considering they are massive underdogs to reach the World Cup. The task is straightforward. Finish as one of the top three sides between Nepal, Hong Kong, Scotland and Papua New Guinea, and ODI status until 2022 is sealed.

To have a realistic chance, qualification to the Super Six stage is essential. The UAE cricketers have seen the benefits of what ICC funding can do to an ODI nation with the launch of the first-ever professional contracts and the development of new programmes by the Emirates Cricket Board. If they cannot maintain their ODI status, if could have serious implications for not just the players but the ECB’s structure.

Dougie Brown is aiming for ODI status.

Dougie Brown’s main target is ODI status.

GOOD RECORD

The UAE will not be stepping into unknown territory when they open their campaign. In their group, they have faced Ireland, West Indies, Netherlands and Papua New Guinea before with some good success. Last year, they completed a T20 series whitewash over Papua New Guinea while also defeating Netherlands 2-1 for their first 50-over series triumph on Dutch soil. Should they reach the Super Six stage, then the likes of Nepal and Scotland await – teams they have beaten before in the last 12 months.

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