The UAE are on the brink of qualifying for the next phase of the World Cup Qualifier after Chirag Suri hit a superb 78 not out to secure a comfortable six-wicket win over the Netherlands in Harare.
Dougie Brown’s men needed to muster a response after Chris Gayle smashed his way to 123 runs from 91 balls – and dragged West Indies to victory – two days prior.
Now they have a win to pair with their opening success over Papua New Guinea as Rohan Mustafa and Suri starred.
Mustafa’s off-spin produced a five-wicket haul for the expense of just 26 runs, but two head-scratching run outs involving Wesley Barresi and Ben Cooper also led to the Netherlands’ downfall.
They could only manage 176 all out – Barresi top-scoring with 37 – but the chase would not have been so straightforward were it not for Suri.
The 23-year-old opener was a calming influence at the crease, with the UAE being reduced to 84-4 at one point.
Indeed there proved nothing to worry about in the end as Suri caressed 78 runs from 126 balls and saw out the chase alongside middle-order batsman Muhammad Usman (36 not out).
The UAE next take on an unbeaten Ireland on Monday though Brown can now afford to look ahead to the Super Sixes phase – which sees the top two teams qualify for next year’s World Cup.
Buoyed by their battling effort in their West Indies defeat, Dougie Brown has challenged his players to play consistent cricket for the entire match if the UAE want to come out on top against Netherlands on Thursday.
The UAE earned the plaudits for how they pushed the Caribbean side nearly all the way in their chase of 358, only to fall to a 60-run loss in the World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday.
Netherlands are next up at Zimbabwe’s Harare Sports Club with the UAE looking to boost their Super Six qualification hopes with their second triumph of the tournament.
Brown says he’s been pleased with how his troops have played so far but has challenged them to be more consistent against the World Cricket League champions.
“We bring in some really good form into this game,” said the 48-year-old. “We have done very well in patches with the bat and ball so far. What’s going to be important is to bring this confidence that we have and try and piece together a consistent match of the full 100 overs.
“We have probably not managed to piece together 100 overs in cricket in the tournament. We know we have it in us because we have played some very good patches in play. Tomorrow, it’s about making sure that we get into the game and be consistent for the entirety of it.”
The last time the nations met, the UAE secured a 2-1 series triumph over the Dutch in Amsterdam.
A number of their key players who missed that series are in the squad, most notably Ryan ten Doeschate. The 37-year-old batsman is back in the national set-up after a six-year gap in a bid of helping his national team qualify for the World Cup.
He’s someone that Brown knows very well having played alongside him during his county days in England and is fully aware of the threat he can pose.
“He’s an exceptional player and is a very dangerous cricketer on his day and we will be talking about him during our meeting,” added Brown. “But they are not a one-man or two-man team by any stretch.
“They have a number of match winners in their squad and can pose a threat to any team in cricket.”
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.
Take a bow gentlemen 👊 🇦🇪 🏏 #UAE #Cricket dig in for the full 50 &, posting 297 (against 357), put in a seriously magnanimous effort v @westindies....— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) March 6, 2018
What a cracker from Rameez .....👏 💪 👉 https://t.co/C3VKrKCqRB @ICC #GoYouGoodThings #GoUAE @ANIBDXB @tykasports pic.twitter.com/SgsNmLfxz3
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.