Having been named Man of the Series in the triumphant Netherlands tour last week, UAE batsman Muhammad Usman insists there’s “plenty of more runs to come” from him.
The 31-year-old was the UAE’s top-scorer with tallies of 57no, 42no and 32 as the tourists won the three-match 50-over series 2-1 in Amsterdam – their first on European soil.
Usman had stiff competition for the top personal accolade with skipper Rohan Mustafa (five wickets and 100 runs) and Amjad Javed (five wickets) all impressing while medium pacer Logan van Beek (10 scalps) pressed his case.
Now having seen his feats recognised, the Lahore-born cricketer is adamant this is just the start and confident he can build on this personal achievement in the future.
“Yes, of course for me this is just beginning,” he said. “I still think that I have to do more for the UAE national cricket so that we can win more games in the future. This is just the beginning and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come from me as we go on.
“For me, it was a great feeling for me, my team and my captain (Rohan Mustafa) to have been part of the squad that won a series for the first time in Europe.
“To have won the Man of the Series award is even more special.”
Like the majority of the 14-man squad that travelled to the Dutch capital, Usman was facing the conditions for the first time.
No match practice prior to the series did not impact the UAE as they continued their resurgence under head coach Dougie Brown, who has now won 10 of his 13 matches in charge since coming on board as interim in February.
Prior to their tour Brown played down the favourites tags despite achieving series wins over Papua New Guinea and Oman in March and April, with the former England and Scotland international challenging his troops to adapt to unfamiliar conditions quickly.
Usman believes the team had no such problem settling in and lauded Brown and the coaching staff for the efforts put in at their indoor training sessions at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
“It was a very good series and in fact I would like to say thank you to the coaching staff as they knew what type of conditions we would be facing in Netherlands,” said Usman, who made his UAE debut in December 2015 against the England Lions.
“So we worked in pretty much the same conditions in the nets at the ICC Academy for around one month and I think that was the key for me scoring big runs.”
He added: “The first game where I scored an unbeaten 58 was very important. The conditions were perfect for bowlers as it was seaming and swinging around and was not easy to play the shots. I knew if I spent time at the crease, a big score would eventually come.”
Shaiman Anwar took four wickets while Rameez Shahzad made the Netherlands pay as the UAE sealed a convincing five-wicket win to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead yesterday.
Chasing a competitive target of 240 in 50 overs, Shahzad was dropped at 14 by Tobias Visee with the game at 140-3.
That ultimately proved to be costly as Shahzad went on to score 43 but more crucially put on a 52-run stand with Muhammed Usman.
That paved the way for Usman (42no) and Adnan Mufti (20no) to see the side home and clinch a third consecutive series victory.
The result means the side has now won 10 matches in 12 games under head coach Dougie Brown, who oversaw the series wins against Papua New Guinea and Oman as interim earlier this year.
— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) July 19, 2017
His troops can seal a series whitewash when the two nations meet again for the final time today.
Earlier, batsman Anwar was among the unlikely wicket-takers for the UAE as the vice-captain claimed four wickets with the Netherlands restricted to 239-9.
Top-scorer Ben Cooper (47) was among Anwar’s victims as the hosts failed to accelerate after being in a good position at 173-3.
In their chase, Rohan Mustafa scored a run-a-ball 58 to set the ball rolling, while Chirag Suri, who was recalled to the starting 11 in place of opener Mohammed Qasim was out for 23 runs.
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa hopes to see an improvement from the top-order batsmen as they aim to clinch a series victory over the Netherlands on Wednesday.
The UAE go into the game in Amstelveen on the back of Monday’s three-wicket triumph and can clinch the three-match series with another same result.
In their first encounter, middle-order batsman Mohammed Usman was the star man with his unbeaten 57 ensuring Amjad Javed’s and Mustafa’s three-wicket hauls did not go to waste.
Of the top-four batsmen, Mustafa scored the most with 34, while Mohammed Qasim (8), Ghulam Shabbir (23) and Shaiman Anwar (11) struggled at the crease.
Mustafa accepts the wicket may have played a part in their batting performance but he hopes the top-order including himself can play big roles in today’s clash.
— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) July 17, 2017
“I will not blame them because the wicket was a bit tricky but we have to expect more from them,” he said. “We have to have a good start and I’m expecting a much better performance than that.
“We have batsmen who can score big runs like Mohammed Usman, who can hit sixes and fours. So the plan would be to be there until the 30th over with just loss of two or three wickets because we have those kind of batsmen who can take the total even higher later in the
He added: “But I can’t take nothing away from the guys on Monday. It was a good performance from the whole team and it was a good job from the bowlers in restricting them to 182.
While the momentum will be with the UAE, Mustafa is fully aware that his team will be ready for whatever is thrown against them by the Dutch, who sit top of the World Cricket League Championship in this format.
“They will come hard at us and we are expecting that,” he said. “It will be a good match and we are expecting a quick wicket because Monday’s game the wicket was a bit uneven.
“We will be definitely concentrated come the game and Inshallah we can go out there and win the series with a match to spare.”
For Dougie Brown, it was his first win as head coach, having won eight games as interim.
The 47-year-old says there’s still areas of improvement. “Throughout the course of the day, we played some good cricket and there are some areas that we have to improve on in the second game,” said the ex-Warwickshire boss.