The UAE are confident they can still make it to the last four of the Asian Cricket Council's Emerging Teams Cup in Singapore despite their 30-run loss to Sri Lanka Under 23 on Tuesday.
The UAE captain Ahmed Raza conceded just 21 runs from his eight overs, while his spin partner Nasir Aziz took three for 39 to restrict Sri Lanka to 235 for eight in their 50 overs.
Shaiman Anwar (53), who smashed an unbeaten 119 in the nine-wicket win over Singapore on Saturday, and Saqib Ali (71) then anchored the run-chase, adding 83 runs in 22.2 overs for the third wicket, and the UAE looked in control midway through the innings.
Saqib was still at the crease when the UAE entered their last 10 overs, needing 74 more with six wickets in hand. But the veteran, who is returning to the team after a year out due to a back surgery, was out in the 42nd over, slicing Chaturanga Kumara to Danushka Gunathilaka, and the UAE faltered from thereon, finishing at 205 for nine.
"We were cruising at one stage," Raza said. "We were there in the game until the end, all the way until the 40th over. It's just that we couldn't carry on in the last 10 overs. We shouldn't take any credit away from their bowling; they bowled pretty well."
Electing to bat, the Sri Lankans were off to a flying start with Udara Jayasundera (38) and Shehan Jayasuriya (101) putting on 57 for the opening wicket. They had 100 on the board in the 21st over and looked set for a score in excess of 270, but Raza's spell of 8-2-21-1 slowed down their innings.
Nasir Aziz also got into the act, picking up three wickets for 14 runs in his final five overs to restrict the Sri Lankans to what Raza thought was an achievable total.
"We bowled pretty well," he said. "They were cruising towards 270 and we restricted them to 235. It was a gettable total, but unfortunately we could not get the job done. Anyhow, we still have a lot of positives to take from this game and do well in the Bangladesh match."
The UAE take on the Bangladesh Under 23 team in their final Group A match on Thursday and a victory against the Tigers could see Raza's men book their place in the semi-finals.
"If we beat Bangladesh, we are into the top four," Raza said. "We are a good side and we know we have the team to beat Bangladesh. So we are still confident of making it to the top four.
"It would have been nice if we had won today, but never mind. This is part of the game. Nasir Aziz, myself and our fast bowlers, we bowled really well. Shaiman batted brilliantly, Saqib is back in form. So there are plenty of positives we can take from this game into the Bangladesh match."
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