Zahoor Khan and Fahad Nawaz were among the bowlers who impressed with the ball as the UAE made it four wins out of four and qualified for the second round of the World Twenty20 qualifying campaign.
Their 43-run victory against minnows Maldives on Tuesday maintained their 100 per cent record in the ICC Asia Regional qualifiers in Kuwait and are assured of a place in the next stage of the competition.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss, the UAE found themselves 35-4 on a tricky pitch. But a 73-run partnership between Muhammad Usman (43) and Mohammad Boota (35) helped them to 123 all out in the 19th over.
But, that total proved more than adequate as the UAE bowlers did the damage with the ball. Captain Rohan Mustafa led from the front with figures of 3-18 while Khan took 2-7 in his 2.3 overs. Nawaz, who made his senior debut with two wickets against Bahrain on Monday, repeated his feat with 2-22.
Head coach Dougie Brown was pleased to get another win after tough batting conditions for his players.
“It was a good result for us,” said the 48-year-old. “It was disappointing that we only got 123 and our top four batsmen had soft dismissals which meant we were behind at one point in the game. The pitch was very difficult and it was always going to be a low-scoring affair.
“We have to give credit to Mohammad Usman and Mohammad Boota who played really well and put on a very good partnership. Usman played exceptionally well and deserved his man of the match and allowed us to get a good total.”
He added: “The bowlers also did very well. Despite an early scare, we came back into the game and really didn’t give Maldives much of a sniff.”
Good win again @EmiratesCricket Great to get to the next stage of the WT20Q Very well played again Uzy... well deserved MOM! 👍🏻🇦🇪— Dougie Brown (@dougie1brown) April 24, 2018
While Brown lauded the efforts of Zahoor and his captain Mustafa, he has been impressed by how 18-year-old Nawaz has settled into the squad and his hunger to succeed.
“All our bowlers did really well,” he said. “It was lovely that Nawaz showed his way in the game and that was only his second game for the senior side. He is showing that he is stepping up to the plate and bowling well. He’s still a work in progress but there’s plenty to work with and it’s nice to see these guys doing well as what they have done in training.”
The national team will be aiming to end the tournament in style with a fifth straight win when they take on hosts Kuwait on Thursday.
And Brown is confident they can maintain their perfect record.
“We have four from four and got another win,” he said. “We know how volatile this format is. we know the pitches are very hard now and scoring is very difficult. Spin will be a big factor in the game and we’ll have to come up with plans to get a good total. It would be nice to complete the tournament unbeaten.”
The UAE find themselves exactly where they want to be in the ICC World Twenty20 Asia Qualifiers. After opening the campaign with a six-wicket victory against Qatar on Friday the UAE wrapped up a seven-wicket win against Saudi Arabia just 24 hours later to stand top of the six-team tournament.
We look at the talking points and takeaways so far ahead of their match against Bahrain on Monday.
THE PERFECT START
On paper, they are the highest ranked nation in the first phase of the competition, but head coach Dougie Brown stressed the importance of hitting the ground running and ‘dominating’ the opposition before they began their campaign and the 48-year-old will be pleased they are not playing catch-up at this stage.
In the Division Two World Cricket League back in February, they were in real danger of losing their ODI status and reaching the World Cup Qualifier after back-to-back defeats to Nepal and Canada but bounced back emphatically.
By sitting top of the league with a perfect record, they have a two-point cushion over Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who all have two points each but, more importantly, they are in control of winning the event and taking one of the three qualification berths.
IMRAN HAIDER AND ASHFAQ AHMED STEPPING UP AGAIN
The Saudi batsmen struggled against the UAE bowlers with just five reaching double figures and their highest individual score being 21. While it was a team effort with Rohan Mustafa, Amir Hayat and Mohammad Naveed taking two wickets each, Imran Haider showed once again he can do the damage with spin after taking 3-6 in his four overs.
With senior player Ahmed Raza rested for the tour, Haider will be leading the attack with his spin and the 30-year-old has certainly showed he’s one of the experienced players in the squad with five scalps in two matches.
For Ashfaq Ahmed, the opener is proving to be quite a player for the UAE. He only made his debut in December 2017 but already has five half-centuries to his name in 24 appearances. He was unlucky to not add to that tally after finishing unbeaten on 46, a vast improvement after scoring 16 against Qatar.
TIME TO EXPERIMENT
With senior batsman Shaiman Anwar rested for the tournament, it has allowed the UAE to explore other options in the team.
One change has been captain Mustafa, who usually opens the innings, dropping down the batting order to No3. It was a decision taken 24 hours before the first game and it’s a position that Mustafa will continue for the entire tournament. He might not have fared well against Saudi with 10 runs, but he can still come up with the goods as shown by his match-winning 71 against Qatar on Friday.
The UAE got their World Twenty20 qualifying campaign off to a winning note as captain Rohan Mustafa led from the front in their six-wicket victory over Qatar.
Chasing 143 after a three-wicket haul from Mohammad Naveed, the UAE reached their target with nine balls to spare thanks to a superb 71-run effort from Mustafa.
The all-rounder usually opens the innings but was sent down the batting order at No.3. But the change didn’t have any impact with the 29-year-old hitting five sixes and two fours in his 45-ball stay.
Openers Ashfaq Ahmed and Chirag Suri both scored 16 while Mohammed Bootha remained unbeaten on 20.
For Mustafa, he was pleased with his performance and confirmed he will play the entire tournament at number three.
“We wanted to try Chirag and Ashfaq as the opening batsmen because for me I can bat in any position,” he said. “Ashfaq plays well while Suri takes his time but can score big runs. It was a decision that was taken on Thursday when the coach asked me and I said it wouldn’t be a problem. I will play at number three for the rest of the tournament.”
The UAE will be aiming to make it two straight wins when they meet Saudi Arabia on Saturday to boost their hopes of claiming one of the three qualification spots.