DUBAI // The UAE's hope of completing an extraordinary comeback against Namibia in the final of the Intercontinental Shield were dashed by a match-winning century from Craig Williams yesterday, his second of the game.
Kabir Khan's side had turned a 241-run first-innings deficit into an 187-run lead thanks to a magnificent 160 not out from Saqib Ali.
But their hopes of forcing victory on the final day were thwarted by Williams, the Namibia captain, who struck 113 off 95 balls to go alongside his 116 in the first innings as his side won the four-day game at Dubai Sports City by six wickets.
"We wanted this win really badly, and I wanted my second ton," Williams, 26, said.
"There was a lot of pressure on me and I've never done that before. There were a lot of nerves and my feet were in concrete. I'm just happy now that's all.
"Spending 170 overs in the field during the UAE innings makes you enjoy the win even more. I keep saying that we've wanted revenge since last December, when we lost to the UAE at home. This is a perfect ending for the series."
Namibia began the day by taking the final two UAE second-innings wickets - Qasim Zubair was bowled for seven and Shoaib Sarwar was out for duck - for the addition of just 22 runs, leaving themselves a tricky run chase.
Amjad Javed raised hopes of a UAE victory when he removed Raymond van Schoor and Sarel Burger in the space of nine runs, but Williams added 52 with Ewald Steenkamp, 77 with Louis Burger and then shared an unbroken stand of 31 with Gerrie Snyman.
"Credit to our guys who did wonderfully well to bring us back into the contest," Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, said.
"Saqib Ali, Swapnil Patil, Naeemuddin Aslam, Arshad Ali all batted well to bring us back into the game. I think we fell short by 40 to 45 runs, otherwise it would have been a good game."
Khurram singled out his side's tenacity as a positive to emerge from the defeat. "We don't give up," he said. "There was nothing in the wicket and we still got three wickets on a batting-friendly track. When you look at how the match started, everyone thought it would be over on the second day. We did very well to reach here and almost had the chance to take the game away. But it wasn't meant to be.
"We have been playing four-day cricket for quite a long time and the key is you can't just give up.
"The bowlers, too, bowled their hearts out today even though there was nothing in the wicket - especially Amjad Javed, who got three wickets out of a very batting-friendly track.
Kabir Khan said he was impressed by his players' performance in what was his first competitive match since replacing Colin Wells.
"In the end, it does show the quality of the players, who made a match of it at the end, and we gave ourselves a bit of a chance," he said.
"They have given 100 per cent and performed well, and losing is part of the game. They have to learn how it feels to lose."