Debutants UAE made a dream start to their Women’s 2018 World Twenty20 Qualifier campaign as they stunned hosts Netherlands by six wickets in a thrilling finish.
Needing eight off the last over in their chase of 138, the UAE lost Udeni Dona in the first ball but former Sri Lanka international Chamani Seneviratna hit the winning boundary with two balls to spare to seal a historic win.
It was the first time the UAE, captained by Humaira Tasneem, had beaten a European nation in their 11-year history and boosts their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.
Although Seneviratna scored the winning runs, the platform was set thanks to a solid partnership between Nisha Ali and Chaya Mughal. After losing opener Esha Oza with just five on the board, the UAE were up against it but Mughal and Ali came together to frustrate the Dutch bowlers with a 110-run stand.
Ali showed why she was named the best player of the Asian qualifiers in November with a superb half-century with her 69 runs coming off 59 deliveries. The 31-year-old hit nine fours in that knock while Mughal kept the run-rate going with a crucial 36 off 41 deliveries.
With 23 from 18 deliveries, the momentum was with the UAE but in the space of four deliveries, both were sent back to the pavilion.
Although Dona fell in the last over, Seneviratna kept her cool to hit the much needed boundary and give debutants UAE the perfect start.
Earlier, the UAE started positively with the ball as Subha Srinivasan removed captain Heather Siegers (11) in the third over.
Despite their best efforts, the UAE had to wait for more than 10 overs to get their second scalp. Heena Hotchandani dismissed Denise Hannema (23) to break an 80-run partnership before returning again in the 18th over to claim her second of the day.
By the time Netherlands ended their innings in the 20th over, the UAE were set a target of 138 following an unbeaten 88-run knock from opener Stere Kalis.
The UAE, who are appearing in only their second ICC tournament, can make the last-four if they defeat Papua New Guinea on Sunday. If they lose that, they will have another chance when they take on Asian T20 champions Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The road to November’s Women’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies reaches the final stage with the UAE among eight sides battling it out for the two remaining berths over the next seven days.
The UAE begin their campaign against hosts Netherlands on Saturday in what will be their only second ICC tournament since the women’s team was formed in 2007.
Here, we look at the talking points ahead of their participation.
A CHANCE TO MAKE THE WORLD TAKE NOTICE
With Twenty20 Asian champions Bangladesh, Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, Uganda, Thailand and Papua New Guinea making up the field, the UAE face an uphill task of qualifying but the fact that some teams know little about them could well work in their favour.
The UAE have never played outside Asian or the Middle East regions but in their 11 years, they have made gigantic strides from winning back-to-back Gulf titles to reaching this final qualifying stage of a ICC global tournament.
It will be the first time they will play against European sides and even Bangladesh and although it will be their most difficult challenge so far, Thursday’s 29-run warm-up victory over Uganda shows UAE are not just there to make up the numbers. Few more positive results will certainly put themselves on the cricketing map.
BLEND OF YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE
Coach Murali Sockalingam can count on a squad where most of the players are not short of international experience. Five of the starting 11 that faced Uganda were aged 30 and above but that’s not to say their youngsters are lacking in experience. Captain Humaira Tasneem is 23 but has been a regular member of the squad ever since making her debut more than five years ago. Esha Oza (19), Kavisha Kumari (15) and Udeni Dona (25) are just some of the young stars who are proving that age is just a number.
While the form of all-rounder Nisha Ali, who topped the batting charts in the Asian qualifiers, will be crucial, the addition of former Sri Lankan international Chamani Senevirathne will boost their aspirations. The 39-year-old featured in all formats for Sri Lanka and her half-century against Uganda, showed she still has what it takes to cause problems.
The UAE have been training for this moment for the last six months and prior to their departure, played Ramadan tournaments as well as a specially-arranged series against a women’s team from Sri Lanka.
The real tests start now but the win against Uganda is the perfect sign that they are mentally and physically ready to make their World Twenty20 dream a reality.
The UAE will go into their Women’s World Twenty20 opener against the Netherlands in buoyant mood after they defeated Uganda by 29 runs in Thursday’s warm-up game.
A week after arriving in Amsterdam, the UAE played their only practice game against Uganda in what will give them a lot of confidence ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Dutch.
At Voorburg, former Sri Lankan international Chamani Seneviratna showed why she will be a vital player for the UAE when the 39-year-old scored 55 runs.
Her knock came from 45 deliveries including five boundaries and a six, which was integral as the UAE set a competitive total of 128-5. Esha Oza and Udeni Dona also contributed with 27 and 32 runs respectively.
In reply, Uganda reached 99-7 with Kavisha Kumari the pick of the bowlers with 2-16. Captain Humaira Tasneem, Heena Hotchandani, Subha Srinivasan and Seneviratna also took one scalp each.
The UAE will now take on Netherlands after being drawn alongside the Dutch, Papua New Guinea and Asian T20 champions Bangladesh.
Ireland, Scotland, Uganda and Thailand make up the eight-team tournament with two nations qualifying to the 2018 World Twenty20 in the West Indies.