The UAE take on Hong Kong with a lot more than just the Asia Qualifier winning trophy on the line. Whoever prevails on Thursday at Malaysia’s Bandar Kinrara ground can look forward to rubbing shoulders with Pakistan and India in the main event, which will be held in the UAE later this month.
It will be the second time in a week the two nations will be meeting after Hong Kong triumphed by 182 runs on September 1.
Ahead of their rematch, we look back at the UAE’s previous 50-over meetings with Hong Kong since 2014.
SEPTEMBER 2018 – UAE LOST BY 182 RUNS
The UAE went into the game on the back of two convincing victories in the Asia Cup Qualifiers as they eased past Singapore and Nepal. But Dougie Brown’s side came unstuck against Hong Kong in their third group game. An imposing 276 was the target for the UAE as 20-year-old skipper Anshy Rath and Babar Hayat both scored centuries. The UAE never got going in their run-chase with number three batsman and captain Rohan Mustafa top-scoring with 33 as they were bowled out for 93.
JANUARY 2017 – WON BY SIX WICKETS
The last time the two countries met in an ODI and it was the UAE who came out on top. Playing at Dubai International Stadium in the tri-series tournament, Imran Haider stole the show taking four wickets as Hong Kong were shot out for 174. Shaiman Anwar’s half-century set the platform for the hosts as they reached their target with 11 overs to spare.
NOVEMBER 2015 – LOST BY 136 RUNS
Hong Kong overpowered UAE in the World Cricket League Championship in Dubai. Tanwir Afzal’s 73 and Rath’s 53 ensured a total of 282 after 50 overs. That total proved to be too much as Anwar’s 71 was one of only four double figure scores as UAE were all out for 146.
NOVEMBER 2015 – LOST BY 89 RUNS
In the first World Cricket League Championship clash at Dubai’s ICC Academy, the UAE were up against it when the tourists amassed 298-4. Mark Chapman, now representing New Zealand, made a perfect ODI debut as he hit 124. Anwar again impressed with the bat, hitting 76 and not for the first time his efforts went in vain as UAE were comprehensively beaten.
MAY 2014 – WON BY TWO WICKETS
The first ODI meeting between the two countries came in the same city as Thursday’s finale. Mohammad Shahzad took four wickets to bowl out Hong Kong for 157. What looked like a straight forward chase turned out to be anything but. Fayyez Ahmed’s 37 and Amjad Ali’s 39 clinched a tense two wicket victory.
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The 19-year-old flew out with the senior squad to Malaysia on Sunday morning after making the 15-man squad. The Emirates Cricket Board publicly announced their squad on Saturday but Bhatia, like the rest of the players learnt they made the cut three weeks’ ago.
The left-arm spinner had been training with the senior cricketers for two months over the summer and is delighted to have proved his potential to the selectors.
“I really wasn’t expecting to be named in the squad to be honest,” he said. “When I heard the news, I didn’t really express myself but later I was really happy.
“I had only been training with the guys for two months and thought it would be a great experience just to be close to the senior guys and pick up tips here and there. I didn’t really expect to go to Malaysia but it’s something that I am looking forward to.”
The UAE have more than a week to acclimatise to conditions ahead of their opening game against Singapore on August 29. They will also face Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nepal and Oman for a place to rub shoulders with Asia’s elite when the main showpiece event is held in the UAE next month.
On his last visit to Malaysia, Bhatia was lethal with the ball and was named best bowler in the Under-19 Asia Cup Qualifiers. He hopes to bank on that experience with the senior side but even if he doesn’t play, he insists it will be a great learning curve.
“Of course my aim is to make a mark but I know how difficult it will be to make the team,” he added. “But having said that, any time I spend with the older guys in training will be valuable for me in developing as a player.”
UAE’s Rameez Shahzad wants to pursue a coaching career once he retires from cricket after completing a course in England.
The batsman attained the ECB’s Level 2 coaching qualification after attending the course in the summer where he played club cricket for Philadelphia in the Durham Cricket League.
Having passed the required tests, Shahzad is keen to complete the Level 3 course in the future and pass on his experience in a coaching capacity when he finally lays down the bat.
“Once I have finished with cricket, I’ve decided that I want to do coaching,” the 30-year-old said. “That is why I wanted to do this course and hopefully next year I can return and do my Level 3 course.”
Shahzad’s father Altaf, a member of the UAE team that featured at the 1996 World Cup, is now coaching youngsters in the country.
And Shahzad is keen to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“My father coaches at his academy and would love to help him. At the same time, I also want to be part of a top coaching team with professional set-up. It’s something I want to aim for.”
Shahzad managed to complete the course in between matches for Philadelphia. He said it was an eye-opener on what was needed when it came to coaching.
“The course was really good because it taught you the basics but I know it will be harder to get the Level 3 qualification,” he added.
“I had to attend four or five days and then work with youngsters for two months before returning to complete the tests. It was really exciting to do this.”