x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Amjad is back to his imperious best

The dangerous UAE opener is among the runs again, joining a select club of centurions in a Twenty20 international with a knock of 105 against Bermuda.

Amjad Ali has made a stirring comeback.
Amjad Ali has made a stirring comeback.

Amjad Ali ended his long wait for a return to the international cricket spotlight in spectacular fashion as he capped the UAE's triumphant tour of Bermuda with a rare feat. The Pakistan-born opener achieved what only a handful of players, most notably the likes of Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum, have done by hitting a Twenty20 international century on Monday night in the Caribbean.

The left-hander's haul of 105 arrived off a mere 61 balls, and laid the platform for the UAE's second T20 win of the day - and fifth in all forms of the game - during their week-long tour of Bermuda. His latest whirlwind effort is unlikely to rank at the very top of his favourite innings, however. Back in 2008, he caught the attention of the wider international cricket community when he lashed the Sri Lankan attack, who are often termed the best in the world game, to all parts of the Qadafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, at the 2008 Asia Cup.

So eye-catching was his effort that night, the online commentary on the website cricinfo.com at the time even suggested his flashing blade and high back-lift bore similarities to the West Indian great Brian Lara. Amjad has endured a long spell in the sidings since that innings, a blazing half-century that was all the more special because the Lahore stadium was his home ground before he moved to the UAE.

His absences have been mostly due to factors beyond his control rather than bad form. He found himself out of the side soon after the Asia Cup as he was the odd man out when the selectors tried to balance their quota of players who qualify under the ICC's four-year residency rules. He had worked his way back into the side for last year's ACC Trophy in Kuwait, yet was again denied by bad luck. This time he was refused entry due to stringent visa issues at passport control in Kuwait, one of a number of players to suffer that fate ahead of the competition.

Thanks to Amjad's effort, the UAE asserted their dominance over Bermuda with four successive limited-overs wins, yet it was the success in their Intercontinental Shield match which was the main achievement of the tour. That win guarantees them a place in the final of the competition, which will be played from November 25 to 28 and will likely be against Namibia. It could be the first to be played on the new ICC Global Cricket Academy oval at Dubai Sports City. The completion of the academy grounds has been beset by delays, but the ICC has pencilled them in for use for the final of the second tier, four-day competition. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae

Arshad Ali The opener learnt he was not indispensable earlier this year when he was left out of the Twenty20 side. He responded with a run-drenched tour of Bermuda, including a first-class century. Ahmed Raza The Dubai-raised spinner has been around for some years, despite still being just 21. He enjoyed his most prolific series to date, taking 16 wickets on tour, seven better than the next best Amjad Ali Amjad has rarely played since he made a brilliant half-century against Sri Lanka in the 2008 Asia Cup. He made the most of a rare chance in Bermuda with a ton a 50 in back-to-back T20s