The UAE’s campaign in the 2020 T20I World Cup Qualifier started with a defeat in Abu Dhabi with the hosts made to pay for a shoddy batting effort by Oman in a seven-wicket loss.
The provisional suspension of three key players, including captain Mohammed Naveed, for match-fixing had rocked the hosts in the lead up to the tournament, but newly elected skipper Ahmed Raza insists that he has the right men to complete the job in the Qualifier.
“I am very happy with the squad I have and I am very happy with the playing XI I picked today. I am going to back them throughout the tournament and I am going to back every single person who was in that dressing room today,” Raza stated after the loss at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
A horror-start with the bat cost the team dearly in their Group B-campaign opener with the early loss of three wickets putting them on the back-foot straightaway. All-rounder Rohan Mustafa, Rameez Shahzad and Muhammad Usman attempted to repair the damage in the middle overs, but their low scoring-rate did the side no favours.
Ultimately, the hosts could muster just a paltry 108-9 in their 20 overs after being made to bat first. But the UAE skipper refused to pin the blame on the middle-order batsmen.
“Look if you lose three wickets in the first six overs, the batsmen coming in are going to bat like that. It is just that the partnership (Mustafa-Shahzad) did not kick on and that is why we are talking about it,” explained Raza.
“It was the same partnership which won us the game against Scotland in the warm-up. When you lose three quick wickets in the powerplay, that is how you expect any batsman to bat. You can’t go all guns blazing at that stage and get all out in 15 overs.”
Raza’s Oman counterpart Zeeshan Maqsood was delighted with the winning start generated by his men and he expects UAE to respond positively to Friday’s loss.
“We know the UAE can play better (than Friday’s clash). They are a good team and have plenty of experience,” the winning skipper stated.
The hosts have no time to mop with games coming in thick and fast in the World Cup Qualifier. They will be in action once again on Saturday in Abu Dhabi against a formidable Ireland side who started their campaign with an emphatic win over Hong Kong.
Raza believes the lack of gap days between matches is a boon for his side after a comprehensive loss in the campaign opener.
“I think it is better that they (games) are coming so thick and fast. You don’t want to have two to three days off after a loss. It is good that we can put today’s performance aside and begin again tomorrow,” he stated.
The morale, Raza insists, remains high in the team dressing room despite the recent controversies and loss to Oman.
“The morale is high, it’s a global event after all. We just have to move on from a loss, we still have five more games to look forward to. In a global event, you never know what is going to happen. But you also don’t want to peak right at the start of the tournament,” the UAE skipper concluded.
Know more about Sport360 Application
The UAE started their 2020 T20I World Cup campaign on a dismal note with a comprehensive seven-wicket defeat to neighbours Oman at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Dougie Brown’s men had been rocked by a match-fixing controversy just days before the start of the tournament and the absence of their suspended trio, including captain Mohammed Naveed, showed as they came out second best in all departments.
The hosts could muster just 108-9 after being made to bat first in Abu Dhabi with Oman cantering to victory with 10 balls to spare. It was Zeeshan Maqsood who claimed the winning runs, in emphatic style, with a six.
At the end of a one-sided affair in Group B, we look at the key talking points.
Lax start with bat costs hosts
UAE’s woes were mainly of their own making with the top-order batsmen guilty of throwing away their wickets to some lax shot-making.
While opener Ashfaq Ahmed was dismissed cheaply after a stunning catch at point by Aaqib Ilyas, his partner Chirag Suri looked good for a big score after getting off to an electric start.
Suri looked imperious in his brief stay at the crease but the same couldn’t be said of his dismissal, with his lazy chip towards mid-on being gobbled up comfortably by Mohammad Nadeem.
That it came off the very next delivery after Ghulam Shabbir’s run-out meant that the hosts had squandered the initiative to Oman inside the powerplay overs itself. Shabbir’s run-out was almost criminal with the left-hander nowhere in the picture following a direct hit by Khurram Nawaz.
The wicketkeeper batsman had only himself to blame after setting up for a suicidal single. From 30-3, it was always going to be a downhill battle for the hosts and it was a horror-start they never recovered from.
Brilliant Fayyaz and Bilal cut short UAE fightback
While the hosts never really recovered from their poor start with the bat, they would have hoped to make a significant late charge in the death overs with veteran Muhammad Usman setting starting to find his range.
However, any such hopes were dashed for good in the penultimate over with Oman pacer Fayyaz Butt grabbing three wickets in the space of four deliveries. He first outfoxed Waseem Ahmed through a clever change of pace, before ending the innings of the well-set Usman off the very next delivery.
UAE’s fading hopes were extinguished for good just moments later with Fayyaz having Sultan Ahmed caught behind by the wicketkeeper. From 102-5, UAE slumped to 104-8 with Fayyaz’s over taking the sting completely out of the tail.
In the final over, fellow pacer Bilal Khan got the better of Junaid Siddique to add to his two early scalps in the powerplay and cap off a fine bowling display.
Over 19 from Fayyaz Butt: 4 W W 1 W 1— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) October 18, 2019
Over 20 from Bilal Khan: 0 W 0 1b 0 2
The duo finish with three wickets each to keep UAE to 108/9. Good enough for a win?#T20WorldCup | #OMAvUAE | FOLLOW ⬇️https://t.co/K1xBqbDXtE pic.twitter.com/ymT0HV2kir
Solid Aaqib, Kaleem help Oman recover from early loss
Oman’s chase of a modest 109 on a slow track started on the backfoot with opener Khawar Ali falling for a duck after miscuing an attempted pull shot off Junaid Siddique.
The hosts were given more encouragement a few overs later with a well-set Jatinder Singh run-out by an excellent Waseem Ahmed throw from the deep.
However, that was as good as it got for UAE’s bowlers with Aaqib Ilyas and Aamir Kaleem putting on a well-executed 42-run stand for the third wicket. The two Oman batsmen batted sensibly at the crease in contrast to their UAE counterparts with Kaleem playing the role of aggressor while Aaqib performed the anchor role.
By the time Kaleem departed for a 19-ball 27, the target was just 28 runs away while the required rate had come down to manageable levels. That job was duly completed with Aaqib seeing the side home with an unbeaten 45 from 51 balls.
Comfortable win for Oman 👏— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) October 18, 2019
A solid batting effort backs up a stellar performance on the field as they beat UAE by seven wickets. #T20WorldCup | #OMAvUAE | SCORECARD ⬇️https://t.co/T4Tp9VQe8c pic.twitter.com/A8IlCZwzEJ
The Abu Dhabi T10 League 2019 will be an eight-team affair with Team Abu Dhabi unveiled as the newest team for the upcoming tournament.
England’s 2019 World Cup winning coach Trevor Bayliss has been confirmed to take charge of the Abu Dhabi outfit with Moeen Ali set to join him as the side’s icon player.
The already star-studded line-up was bolstered even further in Wednesday’s player draft for the 2019 edition, with Pakistan pace ace Mohammed Amir becoming the side’s first pick.
The upcoming edition will be the third season of the T10 League which was previously held in Sharjah. The tournament moves to Abu Dhabi for the next five years after their organisers signed a five-year agreement with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
The profile of the league has grown exponentially in recent days with former England coach Andy Flower being roped in as the coach of Maratha Arabians.
Some of the big names who will turn up for the 2019 edition include Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Shoaib Malik, Hashim Amla, Kieron Pollard and Shane Watson.
“The fact that the government of Abu Dhabi has supported this event with a five-year agreement means it’s already bigger,” T10 chairman Shaji Ul Mulk was quoted as saying by The National.
“There is greater credibility and greater responsibility that comes with it.
“This year almost 500 players signed up for the player draft. The league is already much bigger than last year. It’s all about consolidating the position and delivering a product of the highest quality.”
The vast array of stars and internationals went under the hammer in the player draft on Wednesday with Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane being picked by Karnataka Tuskers.
Pakistan veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik was roped in by Delhi Bulls while his compatriot Mohammad Irfan went the way of Maratha Arabians. Windies all-rounder Pollard was snapped up by Deccan Gladiators while rising England star Tom Banton will turn out for Team Abu Dhabi in what is becoming a formidable English contingent for the newest outfit.
The 2019 edition is set to take place at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi between November 15 and 24.