DUBAI // The UAE's preparations for the ACC Trophy suffered a surprising setback when the ECB Blues side, which is made up almost entirely of national team players, crashed out of the Sharjah Twenty20 Summer Cup. The Blues had been expected to make it through a likely final against the favourites Fly Emirates - who also number many UAE players in their ranks - tomorrow night. Yet they were stunned at the quarter-final stage by Tech Group, who claimed an unlikely 25-run win at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The Rosy Blue Summer Twenty20 provided the nation's best players with their last chance for competitive match practice before they head to Kuala Lumpur to defend their ACC Trophy title from July 25. However, a Blues side, including the UAE captain Saqib Ali, vice-captain Mohammed Tauqir, and coached by the national team boss Vasbert Drakes, had their involvement ended prematurely. Saqib, Tauqir and Ahmed Raza, the left-arm spinner who is part of the 30-man ACC Trophy Probables squad, took two wickets each as Tech Group were held to 141-9. Despite all their batting riches, the Blues were skittled for a paltry 116 in reply.
Shadeep Silva, one of the few UAE national team members not to be affiliated with either Emirates or the Blues, continued his own good form, however. The left-arm spinner was named man of the match after his four wickets paved the way for Zahira Colombo's easy seven-wicket win over Rufi Real Estate in the quarter finals. "I was happy I could bowl well and help the team win, because it was my first match since coming back from the Asia Cup," said Silva.
"We are all Sri Lankans and all travel to Sharjah in a team bus from Abu Dhabi for the matches. There is a good team-spirit, and we are hoping to make the final now." Indika Batuwitaarachchi, the other Sri Lankan player in the UAE line-up, hit 31 for the Colombo Exiles. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org