National team bounced back from heavy defeat to Hong Kong by claiming an eight wicket win in Kuala Lumpur
Asia Cup Qualifier: Rohan Mustafa praises 'character' of UAE teammates after thrashing Malaysia
Rohan Mustafa praised his side for the manner in which they revived their hopes of qualifying for a home Asia Cup, as they dominated Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
The captain was himself named man of the match in the eight-wicket thrashing, which was secured with 251 balls to spare.
Mustafa took two wickets, after taking the new ball alongside Mohammed Naveed, then hit 38 not out in 26 balls as UAE made light work of chasing the 93 they needed to win.
The captain, and coach Dougie Brown, had demanded a response from the players after the shock 182-run capitulation to Hong Kong a day earlier.
Mustafa said the players had been hurting, and the way they performed against Malaysia showed “character”.
Asia Cup Qualifier: Dougie Brown says UAE have 'set the bar high'
Asia Cup Qualifier: Abdul Shakoor excited to make UAE side after years of waiting
Asia Cup 2018 Qualifier: All you need to know and the players to watch
“It was good to see the boys come back hard like this,” Mustafa said.
“Malaysia are not the strongest team, but a win is a win, and to come back like we did shows the character of the boys.
“We have been working very hard, especially when we were back in UAE, when the weather was very hot.”
The national team had appeared set fair for a place in Thursday’s final, after cruising to opening wins against Singapore and Nepal.
They then suffered the chastening loss to Hong Kong, which put their chance of advancing to the tournament in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in grave doubt. The margin of the win against Malaysia also served to correct a damaged net run-rate that had suffered a hit in the loss on Saturday.
Mustafa said the players are focused on making it to what would be a second Asia Cup in succession for the national team, after they played in the Twenty20 version in Dhaka two years ago.
“Hong Kong was a very bad day for our team,” said Mustafa, who restored himself to an opening berth with the bat in order to attack the small run-chase.
“Sometimes days like this happen individually, sometimes they happen as a team, and that was a bad day for us.
“Some decisions didn’t go our way. For that to happen to three batsmen, it affected the team.
“The guys were very pumped up after losing against Hong Kong. Everyone wants to play Asia Cup, and the boys were not happy with the performance.
“They went hard for it in the field in particular, took very good catches, and it made a difference.”
Ahmed Raza took four more wickets, to take his tally for the tournament to 14 from four matches.
The national team face Oman on Tuesday, with the winners likely to advance to the final – although it is possible the losers could also make it through, depending on results elsewhere.
Oman’s meeting with Hong Kong on Sunday was washed out, meaning they remain unbeaten at the top of the table, on seven points.
UAE are in second on six points, with the best net run-rate in the tournament, a point ahead of Hong Kong.
Nepal, on four points, can still mathematically make the final. They would have to beat Hong Kong heavily in their final pool match, and hope Oman inflict a similarly large defeat on UAE, if they are to make it.
The winners of Thursday’s final qualify for the Asia Cup, which will be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai from September 15.