As the sandstorm cleared, the heavens opened at ICC Academy before the sun eventually shone on the UAE’s Intercontinental Cup efforts against Hong Kong as the hosts finally came into the game on the evening of day two.
The UAE finished on 82-4 at stumps, still 296 runs behind Hong Kong but knowing things could have been a whole lot worse were it not for some late resistance that coincided with more comfortable weather conditions.
Despite a largely disappointing day for the UAE, they will take encouragement from debutant Usman Mushtaq’s resistance.
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The Fly Emirates batsman made 29 from 146 balls, mixing elegant straight drives with solid defence that showcased a more than solid technique and aptitude that will surely serve the UAE well moving forward.
Coach Aaqib Javed was pleased with Mushtaq’s efforts and believes the UAE can put themselves in a position to push on and score at a better rate than their 1.51 runs per over with a strong showing at the start of day three.
“You can’t dictate terms until you’re in a position. If we do well in the first two hours, one hour then we can look to push a bit. You can’t take chances when the team is already down and the bowlers are doing well,” said Javed who jokingly bemoaned the “English” conditions.
“[Mushtaq] played Pakistan Under-19 but didn’t make their first-class team. From last year I wanted to bring him into the team but it’s the confidence, not only from me but the selectors and everyone else.
“He looks a decent player, a bit cautious because it’s his debut game, but I can see a good future in him.”
Following overnight rain, the day began in unfamiliar conditions for the UAE with a grey sky and chill in the air providing the backdrop for their pursuit of Hong Kong’s final four wickets.
— Barny Read (@BarnabyRead) November 12, 2015
And it seemed early on like the weather was playing in the home team’s favour as they took three wickets for 30 runs inside the first hour and looked like bowling Hong Kong out for less than 250.
However, last man Nadeem Ahmed (29) and Ehsan Nawaz (14) put on 38 in 18.1 overs to frustrate Aaqib Javed’s men either side of two stoppages in play due to rain.
Having negated the whirling sandstorms on day one and Thursday morning’s rain, Hong Kong were showing just how competent a side they are in the most testing of conditions.
It was an all-round accomplished performance with the bat from Hong Kong as they finished on 378 all-out before carrying on that momentum with the ball.
This was epitomised in both outings by captain Tanwir Afzal who followed up moving to a maiden international century in the morning by taking two quick wickets that left the UAE reeling.
Afzal was delighted with both his and his team’s performances across the first two days and pleased to have had favourable conditions to bowl in.
— HKCricketAssociation (@CricketHK) November 12, 2015
“I think it’s quite good for us weather wise when we start bowling in the first innings. Cloudy weather helps the seam bowler, so we have four seamers. It helps us this kind of weather,” said Afzal.
“I try my best to stick in the middle and it’s quite good for me leading the team from the front.”
First to depart was Asif Iqbal for 8 before debutant Laxman Sreekumar fell for a four-ball duck, both bowled by Afzal with the score on 17.
Six runs later, the UAE were in even worse shape as opener Amjad Ali was caught behind by Hong Kong ‘keeper Christopher Carter off Aizaz Khan for 13.
At 23-3 the UAE were still 355 adrift of Hong Kong and in dire need of a partnership between 28-year-old Mushtaq and World Cup star Shaiman Anwar.
— Associate Cricket (@AssociateCric) November 12, 2015
The pair saw their side to tea with dogged resistance but they could only deny the tourists for so long, Anwar falling early in the evening session for 16 to Ehsan Nawaz.
It left the UAE 56-4, well short of Hong Kong’s first innings total, with more than 30 overs left in the day to negotiate.
Swapnil Patil’s unbeaten 13 was devoid of scoring shots but a necessary slow burner that ate up 50 balls to frustrate Hong Kong.
The pair’s partnership is currently worth 28 runs and they will need to resume in similar fashion on day three if the UAE are to take anything from this match.
Javed is confident that they can do just that.
“Tomorrow will be the best pitch. If the sun is shining there is no excuse to getting out on this pitch,” he added.
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