UAE captain Rohan Mustafa believes his team could have won more matches if they had a fully-fit squad for the Super Six stage.
The UAE bowed out of the World Cup Qualifier on a winning note with a historic three-run victory over Zimbabwe on Thursday. It was their first win in all formats against a Test-playing nation and only triumph in the second round of the 10-team tournament after falling to Scotland and Afghanistan in their previous two matches.
But having been encouraged by his team’s performance throughout the entire competition, Mustafa insists they would have registered more positive results if they had all players fit.
“It was a good tournament for us,” the all-rounder said. “We were in the same situation as Zimbabwe in Division Two World Cricket League where we were almost out of the tournament but needed to win our remaining games to stay in contention.
“We came to Zimbabwe and reached the Super Six stage, so it is a great tour for us. We were thinking of games that we could win but we had players injured and it cost us a lot. Rameez was injured, Amir Hayat was not well and was Ghulam Shabbir. But we will work hard and come back.”
It is unclear when the UAE will play their next match this year but Mustafa, who was found guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct and fined 15 per cent of his match fee along with Zimbabwe batsman Sean Williams, said they will take a lot of self-belief that they can beat any team on their day.
“We can take a lot from this match and with it a lot of confidence,” he said. “It shows we can beat good teams. Zimbabwe are one of the best teams in the tournament and it was a great learning curve for us. Guys will take confidence from this and will help us in the future.”
Haseeb Hameed showed signs that he’s back in form with an unbeaten half-century for Lancashire in their 225-run victory against the ECB Blues in Dubai on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old scored 85 before retiring as The Red Rose posted an imposing 395-4 in their 50-overs at the ICC Academy. In his 82 deliveries, he hit seven boundaries and one six before giving way for other batsmen at the crease.
After Steven Croft (95) and Jordan Clarke (117no) impressed with the bat, Hameed took a catch as the ECB Blues were restricted to 170-9, falling to a 225-run defeat.
His knock was his highest since his 62-run innings against Somerset in September and Lancashire coaching staff will be hoping this could be just the start from the opening batsman.
After a promising 2016 season, Hameed endured a frustrating 2017, with one first-class half-century up until September. He then scored 88 against Essex as well as 62 against Somerset before a broken finger injury ended his campaign.
The batsman, who made his Test debut in 2016 against India, will be hoping to add to his international caps when England host Pakistan and England this summer.
Despite seeing their World Cup dreams dashed, UAE veteran Shaiman Anwar has no immediate plans of calling it quits and wants to carry on playing for at least another year in his 40s.
The UAE take on Afghanistan on Tuesday knowing they have nothing but pride to play for after their Scotland defeat on Thursday. That 73-run loss distinguished their slim hopes of reaching the 2019 showpiece in England but with ODI status secured until 2022, at 39, Anwar feels he still has plenty left in the tank for the national team.
“To be honest, I’m 39 and I still feel good about my ability to play,” said Anwar, who made his international debut way back in 2010.
“I’m thinking of playing for at least one more year. Then after that, I’ll take a call. It will all depend on how I’m playing and if my fitness is good. If that’s all right, then I can continue even playing for a number of years.
“It’s exciting times for the UAE cricket with ODI status sealed until 2022, so I want to be part of that and help the sport grow even further.”
Shaiman will be playing his 31st ODI on Tuesday against a team he and the UAE know fairly well. Afghanistan and the UAE have played consistently in all formats in recent years with their latest clash coming in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup in November.
Afghanistan were crowned champions following the 10-wicket triumph – their last four-day fixture before they move on to playing Tests from this year. Anwar scored 85 in the first innings and in the last six ODIs between the two nations, he has hit three consecutive half-centuries.
But Anwar comes into the game having struggled in the World Cup Qualifier with 64 being his highest score in his last six matches in Zimbabwe.
Yet he is confident he can rediscover his form going into the last two matches, beginning with Afghanistan.
“I’ve had some good innings against Afghanistan and I hope that continues,” added Anwar. “Afghanistan are always strong side and they will be playing to qualify for the World Cup. It’s going to be hard but I’ll do everything I can to score big.”
In the last two matches, the UAE’s top-order struggled with the bat and Anwar insists he has a responsibility of leading by example.
“As batters we need to finish the game. The coaching staff has been instructing us that in every match that we have a responsibility to give our best in batting. As a senior player, if I play well it’s a big boost for my team and my team-mates.”