x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Cricket: UAE can still dare to dream of World Cup qualification

Captain Khan hopes for a 'miracle' in other teams' matches.

Nasir Aziz, right, and Shadeep Silva celebrate the UAE’s victory over Canada on Thursday in Ontario.
Nasir Aziz, right, and Shadeep Silva celebrate the UAE’s victory over Canada on Thursday in Ontario.

The UAE clinched a taut match by two wickets and seven balls to complete a 2-0 whitewash away to Canada in the World Cricket League Championship.

Shaiman Anwar, who scored an unbeaten century in the first game, led the chase with a battling 57, but it was left for the ninth-wicket pair Nasir Aziz and Shadeep Silva to pull off the victory at the North-West Ground in King City, Ontario, on Thursday.

Aziz (11 not out) and Silva (7 not out), after sharing seven wickets between them to restrict Canada to 179 for nine, held their nerves to knock off the 14 with seven balls to spare.

Silva was let off twice, first by Hiral Patel, who dropped him at midwicket, and then Amarbir Hansra, at first slip, off successive deliveries from Rizwan Cheema, the medium pacer who gave the hosts a glimmer of hope by grabbing four wickets when introduced late in the inning.

The results from the two 50-over-a-side games took the UAE's tally to 14 points in the WCL table, one behind Scotland and the Netherlands in the battle for second place and the automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup behind Ireland, who have already secured first place.

Scotland, who meet Namibia, along with the Netherlands (v Canada) and the UAE (Namibia) are left with two games each.

Afghanistan are on 13 and were favourites to win their second match against Namibia tomorrow, having defeated them by 190 runs in Windhoek yesterday. Their final opponents are Kenya.

"Our chances of an automatic spot are very slim as we have to depend on the results of the other games yet we are very happy to be in this position after the victories over Canada," said Khurram Khan, the UAE captain.

"We can only try to win the two remaining matches against Namibia and then hope something like a miracle to happen. So, fingers crossed.

"But this was an excellent result for us over Canada. The boys once again showed real character to take us over the line. We had the game in our hand until we lost our way towards the end. However, it was the end result that mattered."

Aziz, who took a List A career-best four for 32 in the first game, improved his record by taking four for 20. Silva took three for 37.

Khurram and Arshad Ali bagged the remaining two wickets while Rohan Mustafa bowled a tidy spell to return with figures of 10-2-25-0.

"The bowlers, particularly the spinners, did a great job for us," said Khurram, who won the toss and elected to field first.

"Shaiman batted really well and all others around him chipped in with useful little contributions. Once again, it was an excellent team effort."

Silva, the left-arm spinner sharing the new ball with the medium pacer Mohammed Naveed, provided the breakthrough when he had Ruvindu Gunasekera (9) caught by Khurram at first slip with the score on 37.

Khurram struck from his very first over to remove Patel for 53, which was the turning point of the game.

Patel, who reached his half century by hoisting Khurram for a straight six, was beaten by the flight when he charged down and was stumped by Abdul Shakoor. His 49-ball knock was highlighted by five fours and three sixes.

Aziz also struck in his very first over, getting one through the defence of Usman Limbada (31) to reduce Canada to 120 for three in 30 overs.

The UAE were well-placed as they kept the required rate below four throughout the inning although losing a few wickets.

Cheema, brought into the attack in the 34th over, grabbed three wickets in the space of eight deliveries, and later removed Anwar to bring the game to a climax.

After Silva was dropped twice and scrambled for a single, the Man of the Match Aziz took two runs to tie the scores and sent the next ball racing to the fence for the win.

The UAE play Canada in Twenty20 games today and tomorrow in the final leg of their tour.

apassela@thenational.ae