DUBAI // The UAE ended the third day of the Intercontinental Shield final against Namibia yesterday in a stronger position than anyone would have predicted at the start of play. Aside from their captain.
"When I said we wanted to set Namibia 200 runs, that was after the second day when we were five wickets down and 40 runs behind," said Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, after stumps yesterday at the ICC Global Cricket Academy ground in Dubai.
"Now we are 403 for eight, 162 runs ahead. I would still like to have at least 40 more and then definitely we will have a match on. It's a fourth-day wicket so anything can happen. We'll try to go for the win."
Unlike the first two mornings, which saw a layer of early moisture offer plenty of assistance to the medium pacers, yesterday's pitch was placid from the opening over.
Saqib Ali and Swapnil Patil, the overnight batsmen, played confidently until Patil's departure shortly after lunch. The wicketkeeper-batsman had contributed 94 to a stand of 172 before a straight delivery from Sarel Burger rapped him on the pads at 303 for five. Without that partnership, the home side would easily have been out of the game.
"It was very important that they survived that first session," said Khurram. "We had a target in mind when Swappie [Patil] and Ali were batting, after which we could go for our runs, but that didn't work out when Swappie was out. Then we had to be careful with the tailenders. We still have to be very careful because it's still a very good batting wicket."
Saqib celebrated his hundred at 338 for six, just before Amjad Javed wafted casually at Craig Williams, the ball taking a faint edge to the keeper for an 89-minute 24.
Mohammad Tauqir also provided dogged assistance for Saqib as the score slowly mounted before his dismissal by Williams after 43 minutes at the crease.
Qasim Zubair remains there, having played 37 balls for his five not out, and Saqib finished the day on 139 not out after a marathon nine hours at the crease.
Khurram is hoping for more good work from Saqib and his tailenders on the final day.
"Saqib's innings is one of the top-drawer innings I've seen for the UAE," he said.
UAE 1st innings 79 all out
Namibia, 1st innings 320 all out
UAE, 2nd innings
Saqib not out 139
Patil lbw b S Burger 94
Javed c Van Schoor b Williams 24
Tauqir lbw b Williams 8
Zubair not out 5
Extras 12w, 5b, 2lb, 1nb 20
Total (8 wkts, 164 overs) 403
Fall of wickets: 6-303, 7-347, 8-363
Bowling: Klazinga 33-10-93-1; K Burger 25-9-96-0; S Burger 47-18-80-5; Williams 41-10-88-2; Van der Westhuizen 5-0-18-0; L Burger 8-1-16-0; Verwey 1-0-5-0