The UAE returned to winning ways at the first given opportunity as the national team opened their ACC Twenty20 Cup account with victory over Kuwait in Nepal.
Fayyaz Ahmed, the Pakistan-born left-arm spinner, took three wickets to set up a five-wicket success for the UAE that ended up more comfortable than it might have been at one stage. The walkie-talkie technician from Al Ain even returned that rarest of beasts – a maiden over in T20 cricket – as he leaked just 16 runs from his four overs.
To set his spell into context, the Kuwaiti batsmen scored at a rate of nearly 10 runs per over from the other 16 the UAE bowlers sent down in their effort with the ball.
Fayyaz's spell proved crucial in checking the scoring rate.
After Abdul Shakoor, Amjad Ali, Swapnil Patil and Rohan Mustafa all posted scores in the 30s, the UAE reached their victory target of 173 with seven balls to spare.
The win, which was the first on Ahmed Raza's watch since he took caretaker charge of the national team while Khurram Khan has a tournament off, meant the team could banish the memories of last week's toils against Ireland.
However, given the way the game started against their Arabian Gulf neighbours, they must have felt as though the formidable Irish batsmen had just swapped shirts for Kuwait ones, with 69 runs on the board by the end of the fifth over.
This competition carries with it two qualifying berths for the World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai later this year, and thus the chance to play at the main event in Bangladesh in March.
The UAE are exempted from worrying about that, as they are guaranteed to be involved in the qualification competition as hosts. Their group B rivals in Nepal, Afghanistan, are also assured of advancing as they have full one-day international status.
While UAE and Afghanistan would consider themselves favourites to reach the final in Nepal, the next two nations in the traditional pecking order at this level of Asian cricket each had wins yesterday.
Irfan Ahmed hit 87 in 39 balls to set up Hong Kong's six-wicket win over Malaysia. Nepal, who shared the 50 over version of this competition after playing out a tie with UAE in the final in Sharjah, beat Maldives by 76 runs.
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