Ahmed Raza says UAE must focus on the basics to beat Ireland in World Cup Qualifier

Denzil Pinto 11/03/2018
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UAE’s Ahmed Raza has urged his team-mates to play their natural game and get “ the basics right” if they want to beat Ireland on Monday and reach the World Cup Qualifier Super Six stage.

UAE enter their final World Cup Qualifier group stage match in Zimbabwe knowing a triumph over the Irish will guarantee them a place in the next round.

Even if they do lose, the UAE can still advance if other results go their way. The UAE, currently on four points and placed third in Group A, have a poor record against the Irish with no win in five ODIs.

Raza believes now is the time to end that poor run.

“What better place to change that record than in a World Cup Qualifier,” said the 29-year-old spinner. “There is no pressure on us whatsoever.

“We have played some very good cricket so far in this competition and everybody is ready for it. Ireland will be the favourites because of their record so we’ll just go out and enjoy our cricket.”

The top three teams from Group A and B move to the Super Six stage.

In the other Group A match, the West Indies take on Netherlands in another significant fixture. While West Indies are through to the Super Six stage with three wins out of three, the Dutch – placed fourth with just one victory – must win by a big margin to have any hopes of joining the two-time world champions in the next round.

“We cannot control what the other teams are doing,” said Raza, whose side needs to finish in the top three between Scotland, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong in the competition to maintain ODI status and continue receiving ICC funding until 2022.

“We can only do what we can and that is to give our best and win the game against Ireland. We know it will be hard as they have some very good players but  we will have to do the basics right.”

There have already been some big shocks in the 10-team tournament. Afghanistan, who were favourites before the tournament started, will be hoping Scotland beat Nepal on Monday that will improve their chances of sneaking into the Super Six stage. The Afghans are placed third in Group B with just one win – against Nepal – and three defeats.

“I knew there will be a lot of surprises because there are 10 strong teams here,” added Raza. “It depends how you play cricket as qualifiers is always a different ball game altogether.”

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Sarfraz Ahmed and Shane Watson power Quetta Gladiators to top of PSL

Denzil Pinto 11/03/2018
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Shane Watson delivered an all-round show.

Quetta Gladiators eased to the top of the Pakistan Super League table following a six-wicket victory over reigning champions Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday.

Chasing 158, captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Rilee Rossouw led the way with a 74-run stand at Dubai which sealed their third straight win of the tournament.

Here are the key points from the match:

WATSON DELIVERS

The Australian all-rounder proved once again how effective he can be with the bat and ball. After his man-of-the-match display against Karachi Kings, the 36-year-old was at it again with another solid performance. His picked up 2-26 and played his part on the field by taking the catch of Mohammad Hafeez. He then capped off a fine night with 37 runs, including six boundaries, off 25 deliveries.

PESHAWAR’S BATTING DISAPPOINTS

At one point, Peshawar Zalmi were struggling to reach 130 but Riki Wessels and captain Darren Sammy went after Quetta Gladiators’ bowlers that gave them a respectable total of 157. In the last five overs, the pair scored 56 runs as Sammy keeping the run-rate high with four fours and two sixes in his 19-ball 36.

In the end their efforts went in vain and it was another disappointing batting team performance where four of their top-seven batsmen reached double figures. Standing second bottom with six points, defeat is not an option in their two remaining games.

ROSSOUW AND SARFRAZ FINISH THE JOB

At 84-4 after 10 overs, Peshawar had an opportunity to pile more misery. Instead, they were met by a stubborn partnership that took the game away from them as Sarfraz and Rossouw stitched together an unbeaten 74-run stand.

With three straight victories, last season’s runners-up are beginning to find their form at the right time.

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UAE's Chirag Suri happy with his batting display in Netherlands victory

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Chirag Suri knocked an unbeaten 78 to spur the UAE to a win.

Chirag Suri was happy to have taken the responsibility with the bat in the UAE’s six-wicket victory over the Netherlands in their World Cup Qualifier clash on Thursday.

The 23-year-old batsman frustrated the Dutch bowlers with a solid display in Zimbabwe with an unbeaten 78 as his side chased down 177 with six overs to spare.

Suri was playing in his second straight game after replacing Ashfaq Ahmed in the starting lineup and was pleased to have played a vital match-winning knock.

“When you’re chasing a score of 170 odd, you’ve got time to get in and that’s what I planned to do,” he said. “Initially, I left the balls that were going off-stump and knew I didn’t have to fiddle with those. I was playing the balls within the stump as the ball was skipping up and down.

“It wasn’t an easy wicket. But for me, it was important to go across the line especially after playing so many balls.  If you come in and then get out, it’s not going to help the team’s cause and I was really happy to convert the score and take the team over the line.”

He added: “Whenever we lost wickets, we never lost them in patches. In the top three, you need someone to take you through and luckily I was the one.”

Despite his heroic efforts, Suri was denied the man of the match award with captain Rohan Mustafa once again leading from the front. The all-rounder rattled the Dutch batting line-up with figures of 5-26 and Suri had nothing but praise for the skipper.

“He is someone who always likes to attack the stumps,” said Suri, who was bought by Gujarat Lions in last year’s IPL. “He has worked really hard for us and is picking up wickets at a very crucial time for us. It’s not just today, he’s been doing that for a couple of games now. His contribution is invaluable. I hope he keeps that going.”

The result puts the UAE on the verge of reaching the Super Six stage after two wins from three games. Ireland are up next on Tuesday and Suri insists they will not get carried away and focus on each game as it comes.

“We have come here to progress in the tournament. We have always dreamed of a World Cup and this is one step closer. But we have to keep working. But will take it game by game, we don’t want to get too carried away. First there is Ireland and we want to focus on that game.”

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