A century from Shorye Chopra and an outstanding all-round performance from the man-in-form Dan D'Souza helped the UAE roll into Saturday's final of the Asian Cricket Council Under 19 Elite Cup tournament against Afghanistan.
Though the UAE have already qualified to the Under 19 World Cup as the host nation, they have proved to be no pushovers in this tournament. In the semi-finals yesterday, the UAE humbled Nepal by 76 runs.
Afghanistan remained unbeaten by defeating Malaysia by a whopping 140 runs.
The UAE did not start well, losing three wickets for just 32 runs with Adnaan Khan doing most of the damage, scoring a quick 20 from 16 balls including five fours.
D'Souza, who has had a wonderful tournament so far, stopped Nepal from further domination. But the day belonged to Chopra, who played a critical knock, as he and D'Souza shared a mammoth 171-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Chopra punished the loose deliveries that came his way. His 114 off 115 balls included 17 boundaries and a six. D'Souza took a cautious approach to score 58 runs in 105 balls with two fours.
Sajid Khan contributed a 24-ball 26 and Rohit Singh, the captain, hit 15 off 14 deliveries as the UAE amassed 271 for seven in 50 overs.
Chasing an improbable target, Nepal lost a wicket early but Harishankar Shah steadied the innings to score a gritty 52 with Nirmal Thapa doing his best to score 23. However, D'Souza claimed four wickets in his 10 overs to put Nepal in a difficult spot.
Bhuvan Karki staged a late fight, scoring a 48-ball 41, but with a tall target to chase Nepal succumbed to 195 in 46.1 overs. Saurabhkant Gir also took two wickets.
If UAE beat Afghanistan, the latter will still qualify to the World Cup by virtue of the Emirates being hosts.
That will make Saturday's final a revenge clash for the UAE and a chance to redeem themselves after Afghanistan had overwhelmed them in their group match by 161 runs. Hasmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan's star batter in the tournament, will be the danger man to look out for.
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