The UAE must beat Bangladesh on Tuesday to keep their 2020 World Twenty20 qualification hopes alive after they fell to an agonising two-wicket loss against Papua New Guinea (PNG).
At Amstelveen on Sunday afternoon, the UAE nearly pulled off an unlikely victory when they took four wickets in the last four overs to leave PNG needing six from seven deliveries. But PNG scraped past the finishing line to reach their 84-run target with one ball remaining.
Victory against PNG would have guaranteed a semi-final berth for the UAE but Murali Sockalingam’s side will have to beat newly-crowned Asian Twenty20 champions Bangladesh in their final group game to guarantee their road of reaching the showpiece event in West Indies.
The UAE had little time to rest following their stunning six-wicket win over hosts Netherlands on Saturday.
But unlike their remarkable run-chase where they successfully reached their target of 138 against the Dutch thanks to Nisha Ali’s half-century, the UAE struggled with the bat.
After surviving the first seven overs, the UAE lost their first wicket and by the 12th over, half of their batting line-up had been dismissed with the scorecard reading 45-7.
Subha Srinivasan (22) and Roopa Nagraj (10) then put on a vital 29-run stand. By the time Srinivasan became the sixth batswoman to be run-out off the final delivery, the UAE gave themselves a fighting chance with 83 on the board.
With PNG hitting 84 runs in their eight-wicket defeat to Asian Twenty20 champions Bangladesh on Saturday, the UAE bowlers had their work cut out.
Nagraj got the UAE’s first wicket in the second over before former Sri Lanka all-rounder Chamani Seneviratna added another. With 11 runs needed from 24 deliveries, PNG was in a dominant position but survived a scare when Srinivasan (3-13) took two scalps in one over while Kavisha Egodage (1-15) pegged them back.
Ali, who scored two runs with the bat, was effective with two run-outs in the three overs but PNG kept their cool and got the required run to keep themselves in contention.
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.