The UAE bowlers did their job and continued the team’s resurgence by beating Namibia by 34 runs with a day to spare to win their second consecutive ICC Intercontinental Cup game on Monday.
The tourists resumed play on 116-6 with a 173-run advantage but set the Namibians a target of 215 for victory having been bowled out for 157 in the second innings.
Namibia never really settled at the crease with the UAE bowlers making things difficult right from the word go.
Qadeer Ahmed got the first and only wicket by removing Lohan Louwrens for a duck. It wasn’t long before the UAE were celebrating again when Ahmed Raza, who claimed 6-61 in the first innings, removed Stephan Baard as Namibia were reeling 22-2.
Another spinner Imran Haider got into the act, taking two scalps in the same over with the scoreline reading 51-4. While Raza claimed another, captain Rohan Mustafa and pacer Mohammed Naveed took three and four wickets respectively.
With just one wicket in hand and needing 80 runs to win, the UAE were sensing victory.
But they were frustrated for more than 20 overs as Bernard Scholtz (27) and Petrus Burger (16) shared a 10th-wicket stand of 46 runs.
— Dougie Brown (@dougie1brown) September 18, 2017
Yet, in the last half hour of the day’s play, the UAE got their reward with vice-captain Shaiman Anwar running out Berger.
The UAE now sit in fourth position with 47 points in the standings with one game remaining.
Captain Mustafa hailed the team for their tremendous efforts particularly the bowlers.
“The guys played very well and the bowlers did the job and especially Imran Haider,” said the 28-year-old bowler.
“We gave away our wickets but winning against Namibia in Namibia is good for us especially as we don’t play this format often.”
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UAE coach Murali Sockalingam is convinced they will get their first win of the Indoor Cricket World Cup by beating England after being encouraged by his team’s displays Sunday.
His side put on two brave shows, going down to defending champions 90-78 with Isuru Umesh taking two wickets and scoring 12 runs, before losing to South Africa 68-43 in front of another big crowd at InSportz Club.
It was the third consecutive defeat for the hosts after their loss to New Zealand on Saturday but they have picked up seven skin points to remain in contention of reaching the semi-finals.
With the strong favourites out of the way, England and India are next up for the UAE today. Having been impressed by what he’s seen of his team, Sockalingham says it’s only a matter of time before they taste a victory.
“I’m sure tomorrow against England, we are going to get the win,” he said.
“We have gained a lot of experience in the games we’ve played in and we have watched their games and our guys are ready.”
— Denzil M Pinto (@denz_360) September 17, 2017
“The Australia game was close and we could’ve easily won it,” he added. South Africa played hard and we knew that before the game. But we are getting there and we know where we are.”
For Australia, they claimed the bragging rights by defeating rivals New Zealand 61-43 to stand top of the standings with 18 points.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s women’s were beaten by New Zealand 91-68 and South Africa 125-55, although they did claim three skin points.
When both the national anthems of the UAE and India were played during a commemoration ceremony of the Indian indoor cricket team on Friday night, ‘Mr Cricket’ Anis Sajan placed his right hand over his heart.
As his actions suggest, both countries are very dear to him. After all, he’s called the UAE his home since 1992, while his roots are deep in his home country, India.
Since his arrival in Dubai, not only has he become a successful businessman by setting up Danube Group along with his older brother Rizwan but he has played an integral role in the UAE cricket scene.
With a fond passion for the game, his outdoor and indoor sides Danube Lions and Danube Tigers were a dominant force in the domestic competitions, winning the majority of titles in front of them, before closing down in 2016.
Yet, he still remains in cricket. Last month, he announced the purchase of the Gujarat Tigers franchise that will compete in the T10 League in Sharjah later this year.
But this week, his focus is on the Indoor Cricket World Cup at InSportz Club in Dubai.
Sajan is the mentor for India and while he has happy memories of winning top trophies, he ranks this opportunity as among the best.
“It’s the best thing to happen,” said Sajan, who revealed he turned down an approach from the UAE having agreed to mentor India.
“When you have had a local team which I had for the last 20 years but being recognised as a mentor for an international team like India which is my home country, then it’s right at the top. It cannot get any bigger than this.
“I will use my business skills which is motivating. If I keep motivating my Indian cricket team, I’m sure they will do well. Having said that, they are a bunch of youngsters who are playing this cricket and have not been exposed to this format like the Australian indoor team. But give them a little time, and I’m sure they’ll improve over the years.”
India have been impressive so far with two consecutive victories, and they sit third in the standings with 14 points.
They face defending champions Australia this afternoon before taking on the UAE later in the evening.
“If you ask me now, as a mentor of Team India then I definitely have to support India and want them to win,” he said when asked who he would be supporting. “My heart is on one side (India) and mind is on the other (with the UAE). But I’ll stick with my heart and wish all the best to the UAE against the other teams.”
He’s certainly enjoying the buzz of being back in cricket but gave a strong hint that both his outdoor and indoor sides could return this season. “Hopefully, God willing. This has given me a kick to come back again and you never know, Mr Cricket Anis Sajan could well be back in cricket,” he said.