Rameez Shahzad and Laxman Sreekumar struck vital half-centuries as the UAE successfully chased 313 to complete a 5-0 series whitewash over Zimbabwe ‘A’ on Saturday.
With the series already sealed following Monday’s victory, the hosts had an opportunity to maintain their perfect run in the five-match series. But they had to do it the hard way in what was arguably their toughest test in the series.
Zimbabwe’s four of their top-five batsmen got going with Chamunorwa Chibhabha (60), Prince Masvaure (53), Tarisai Musakanda (70) and Peter Joseph Moor (75) all scoring half-centuries to set an imposing total of 312-9 in their 50 overs.
With a tricky chase, it was number four and five batsmen Rameez Shahzad and Sreekumar who put the UAE back in control. Shahzad scored 61 runs while Sreekumar hit 54 before Adnan Mufti smashed a valuable 46 as the UAE reached their target in the 48th over with four wickets to spare.
For Sreekumar, it was his first series since the Oman games in May, due to injuries and was delighted to play his part in helping the team reach a giant target at the ICC Academy.
“It was the first time the UAE were chasing more than 300 runs,” said the 31-year-old. “It was really difficult. When I came onto the crease, we had to get around 150 runs and I planned my innings well with Rameez and Adnan Mufti which saw us win the game.”
Bengal Tigers and Kerala Kings will kick off the inaugural T10 Cricket League next month after the fixtures were announced by organisers on Saturday.
The new competition takes place at Sharjah Cricket Stadium from December 14 to 17 with Bengal Tigers, led by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed taking on a Kerala Kings side that features Eoin Morgan in the opening fixture.
On the same day, Maratha Arabians, which features Virender Sehwag and top-pick Mohammad Amir, meet Pakhtoons.
The following day, four matches will take place starting from 16:00. Punjab Legends, which will see the likes of Carlos Braithwaite and Hasan Ali in action, make their debut against Bengal Tigers, followed by Maratha Arabians’ fixture against Team Sri Lanka at 18:00.
Punjab Legends will again be back on the field when they take on Kerala Kings at 20:00 with Pakthoons clash against Team Sri Lanka at 22:00.
The remaining two days will see the tournament reach the play-off and knockout stage with the semi-final and final scheduled for December 17.
Organisers also confirmed each bowler will only be allowed to bowl a maximum of two overs with teams awarded two points for a win, and one for a draw. If the match ends in a tie, the game will be determined by super over.
18:00, Opening Ceremony
Bengal Tigers v Kerala Kings
Maratha Arabians v Pakhtoons
16:00, Bengal Tigers v Punjabi Legends
18:00, Maratha Arabians v Team Sri Lanka
20:00, Punjab Legends v Kerala Kings
22:00, Pakhtoons v Team Sri Lanka
17:30 – Semi-finals and final
Suri scored 58 runs off 105 deliveries in the hosts’ 77-run victory over Zimbabwe ‘A’ side on Thursday at Dubai’s ICC Academy. He was one of three batsmen to cross the 50-mark with new boy Ashfaq Ahmed and wicket-keeper Ghulam Shabbir hitting an identical figure of 65.
But neither of the trio was given the man of the match award with the accolade going to medium pacer Zahoor Khan after his 5-45 saw Zimbabwe all out for 206 in their chase of 283-5.
For Suri, his wait to score a fifty was finally over on his eighth attempt since being recalled to the national team in July. His previous highest score was 41 against Namibia in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup in September but is happy to get that first half-century off his back.
“Obviously, it’s a good feeling,” said Suri, who failed to reach double figures in his two matches in the series. “I’ve been batting really well in practice matches but in a couple of the games for the UAE, I was not able to get a start. I was getting out early and being unlucky. I spoke to the coaches and they said just put that behind me.
“I would’ve liked to have scored a hundred but played another shot but that’s cricket and something I’ll have to learn from. Definitely very happy to get my first half-century for UAE.”
Suri could have another opportunity to make it two consecutive fifties or even a maiden international century with the UAE chasing a 5-0 series whitewash in Saturday’s final game of the series.
“Yeah, definitely (there will be more runs to come),” said Suri, who was bought by Gujarat Lions in the IPL auction earlier this year.
“Once you start scoring runs, you get into that mode of scoring runs. I didn’t think I was playing my best cricket yesterday but I did on the wicket and survived. This is a good lesson for me as well. I was really patient in my innings and if I’m patient in all the games I play, hopefully can get some big runs in the bag.”