UAE fall short against Afghanistan

Joy Chakravarty 19:52 02/12/2014
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Star man: The influence of Khurram Khan (85*) was not enough to help UAE over the line at the ICC.

The UAE’s spirited effort to win their five-match One Day International series with a third straight victory fell agonizingly short on Tuesday as Afghanistan beat them by two wickets with just two balls to spare.

Chasing 274 runs to win, all-rounder Mirwais Ashraf smashed a six off Krishna Karate’s fourth ball to haul Afghanistan over the line. A couple of balls before that, Ashraf seemed to have nicked a widish delivery from the bowler into the gloves off Saqlain Haider, but umpire Sarika Prasad disagreed and ruled the ball wide much to the dismay of the UAE players.

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Put in to bat after they lost the toss, UAE reached 273 for five with another brilliant half century knock from skipper Khurram Khan (85 not out in 80 balls), while Mohammad Shahzad scored 62 at No3.

It was a remarkable effort from Khan, who works with Emirates and flew in from a 16-hour long flight from San Francisco a day before the series started. But the 43-year-old has shown remarkable stamina and hunger for runs, making 53 in the first ODI and a record unbeaten 132 in the second. He now averages 270 in the three matches so far.

In reply, Javed Ahmadi got his side off to a great start making 67 runs in 45 balls at the start of the innings as Afghanistan reached 91-2 in 12.3 overs when he was run out.

The UAE bowlers then gave away just 70 runs in the next 20 overs and picked up another four wickets to have the upper hand at 169-6 in the 33rd over.

But Ashraf (52 not out in 51 balls with three sixes) added exactly 50 runs for the seventh wicket with Shafiqullah (39), and then featured in a crucial 39-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Dawlat Zadran for the ninth.

Medium pacer Fahad Al Hashmi and off-spinner Rohan Mustafa both took two wickets each for the home side.

UAE coach Aaquib Javed was satisfied with his team’s performance but pointed out to two factors, which he thought cost them the match.

“I think on a lively pitch like this and against a good pace attack of the Afghanistan bowlers, we did well to make more than 270,” said the former Pakistan pace bowler.

“However, I thought we got stuck a bit in the middle after a good start. We should have scored around 285 runs today.

“And then, we lost our seamer Shahzad after just two overs because of a thumb injury. That I thought was very significant because on this wicket, with the short boundary, we needed another seamer to contain the Afghanistan batsmen.”

The fourth match of the series will be played at the ICC Academy ground on Thursday, December 4.

BRIEF SCORES: UAE 273 for five in 50 overs (Khurram Khan 85 not out, Mohammad Shahzad 62, Amjad Ali 47, Rohan Mustafa 28, Dawlat Zadran 2-51, Samiullah Shenwari 1-27, Mirwais Ashraf 1-44) lost to Afghanistan 276-8 in 49.4 overs (Javed Ahmadi 67, Mirwais Ashraf 52 not out, Shafiqullah 39, Fahad Al Hashmi 2-50, Rohan Mustafa 2-33)

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