2020 T20 World Cup Qualifier: UAE register big win over Nigeria to keep their hopes alive

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A desperately needed win for the UAE. Image credit - T20WC/Twitter.

The UAE bounced back into contention in the 2020 T20I World Cup Qualifier with a much-needed win over Nigeria in Group B.

Having restricted Nigeria to 111-3 in their 20 overs, the hosts in Abu Dhabi notched up their third win of the campaign after chasing down the target with five wickets and 45 balls to spare.

It helped Ahmed Raza’s men climb to third in Group B, while Nigeria remain without a single win after four-straight losses in the competition.

Sultan Ahmed puts the brakes on Nigeria

After Raza won the toss and elected to field first, the UAE skipper unleashed spin in the form of Sultan Ahmed on the Nigeria batsmen straight away.

The left-armed orthodox spinner proved extremely difficult to get away for the Nigeria openers and remarkably bowled two maidens in his four-over spell with the new ball. The pressure created by Ahmed soon bore fruit, with Nigeria opener Daniel Ajekun perishing to a run-out after playing nine dot deliveries.

While Ahmed would himself not claim any wickets in the clash, his four overs leaked just the miserly six runs in what was one of the most economical spells of bowling in the format.

It was Ahmed’s tight bowling upfront that kept Nigeria’s total to a manageable level despite an unbeaten 89-run stand for the fourth wicket between Chimezie Onwuzulike and Sesan Adedeji.

Zawar Farid makes instant impact for hosts

With opener Ashfaq Ahmed provisionally suspended, the UAE gave Zawar Farid his first outing in the competition on Thursday and the 27-year-old took his chance with both hands.

Opening the innings for the hosts, Farid looked completely at home at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium as he marched his way to a fluent half-century.

The right-hander crashed three sixes and four boundaries in an entertaining 35-ball stay at the crease which fetched him 55 runs. He forged valuable stands with Rohan Mustafa and Chirag Suri to all but seal the game for the UAE before his rapid innings was ended in the ninth over of the chase.

Hosts lose wickets, but improve net run-rate

The UAE were motoring alone at 78-1 in the run-chase before Farid’s dismissal triggered a min-collapse which saw them reduced to 91-5.

The loss of wickets in a bundle came as the hosts chased an improved net run-rate, with the competition for places getting tight in Group B. They ultimately attained the target in 12 and a half overs with their improved run-rate propelling them over Jersey into third spot in the group.

It will go right down to the wire in Group B, for sure, with as many five teams currently separated by just two points. It is important to bear in mind that the hosts have played a game more at least than their nearest rivals in the group and face a tough test in the form of leaders Canada in their final Group B outing.

Finishing fourth in the group is a minimum if the UAE want to keep their chances of qualifying for the main tournament in Australia alive.

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