Batsman Suri nullifies Sandeep Lamichhane's leg-spin to set platform for 78-run win with opening 65, while Paras Khadka is one of Raza's four wickets
Asia Cup Qualifier: Chirag Suri and Ahmed Raza win mini-contests as UAE beat Nepal
Ahmed Raza and Chirag Suri each won out in personal duels of differing natures as UAE took a telling win off Nepal in the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia.
The national team are the highest-ranked side in the six-team competition, in which the prize for winning is a place alongside the likes of India and Pakistan in the main event next month.
As the only other side in the event with full one-day international status, Nepal started the tournament as likeliest rivals to the national team for qualification.
Nepal had also beaten the UAE twice already this year, once in the group phase of the World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 in February, then in a warm-up match for the ensuing World Cup Qualifier.
Some rivalries go back far longer than that, however. Raza, as the longest-serving member of the UAE team, has regularly found himself in opposition to Paras Khadka, Nepal’s great batting talisman.
When they met in Namibia in the WCL, Khadka meted out some severe punishment to Raza’s left-arm spin. In the pool match, he put him into the neighbouring field, then in the final, he dispatched him onto the roof of the indoor school at The Wanderers sports club.
Raza exacted revenge, though, when they met in Malaysia, as he picked up Khadka’s wicket early in the Nepal run-chase, stumped by Abdul Shakoor, on his way to four wickets and the man-of-the-match award.
“We’ve been playing against each other since Under 19s, so he knows my art very well,” Raza, 29, said. “He dominated me in Namibia, but last night I was very clear in my mind that I just have to put the past away, and focus on the ball I am going to deliver.
“Rohan [Mustafa, the captain] had the confidence in me as he brought me on first change. We knew he would attack, which he did and eventually got out.
“It was a big wicket in the context of the game. He is a big player for Nepal. It felt awesome, although I was somewhat relieved.”
Raza’s four wicket-haul undermined Nepal’s pursuit of 255 to win. They fell 78 runs short, condemning them to a second defeat in two days, while the UAE celebrated a second win in a fine start to the competition.
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UAE’s batting effort was again set up by Chirag Suri, who had scored his first century for the national team a day earlier. He top-scored with 65, and in so doing quelled the threat of Sandeep Lamichhane. Suri and Lamichhane have each experienced Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket – the UAE man with Gujarat Lions last season, and the Nepal spinner with Delhi Daredevils this year.
Lamichhane took 4-24, but Suri was not one of his victims.
“I love playing against good bowlers, and I enjoy a contest,” Suri said. “There was no extra motivation [given the IPL link], but I definitely enjoyed the contest. Every time I picked his googly, we exchanged smiles.”
After Suri’s efforts at the top of the order, Adnan Mufti ensured UAE reached a formidable total, as he hit 57 in 46 balls batting at No 7.
The UAE next face Hong Kong, who registered a first win of the tournament as they beat Singapore by five wickets, on Saturday. Gulf neighbours Oman are the only other side with a 100 per cent record, after they beat hosts Malaysia in the final over.