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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Chirag Suri leads the way as UAE thrash Kuwait to reach World Twenty20 Qualifier final

Opening batsman scores his highest score in any format for the national team in the 86-run win over the tournament hosts

In this file photo Chirag Suri is seen in a match against Kuwait in 2018. On Thursday, he opened the innings for UAE in their Asia Cup Qualifier match against Nepal in Malaysia, scoring 65 to help his team to a 78-run win. Pawan Singh / The National
In this file photo Chirag Suri is seen in a match against Kuwait in 2018. On Thursday, he opened the innings for UAE in their Asia Cup Qualifier match against Nepal in Malaysia, scoring 65 to help his team to a 78-run win. Pawan Singh / The National

Chirag Suri provided the most dominant batting display of his budding career to date as the UAE cruised into the final of the World Twenty20 Asia Western Regional Qualifier in Kuwait.

The 23-year-old opener blazed his highest score in any format for the UAE as the national team steamrollered the host nation.

The 86-run win against Kuwait meant they advanced to Friday’s final against Qatar with a perfect five wins from five in pool play.

The two finalists are assured of progressing to the next phase of qualifying, a six-team competition that will also involve three qualifiers from east Asia. They will be joined by the winner of Friday's third-place playoff between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

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Suri’s 52-ball innings of 86 laid the platform for a formidable total of 201-4 from the UAE’s 20 overs, with Mohammed Usman’s fine form continuing with a late-overs cameo worth 26 from 10 balls.

Rohan Mustafa and Mohammed Naveed took three wickets each as Kuwait were restricted to 115-8 in reply.

“I haven’t played a lot of cricket in this format for UAE, and coming into this competition there was a lot of expectation for me, having done well in the inter-state tournament in Dubai,” Suri said.

“I wanted to carry that form over. It hasn’t quite happened. I have tried to play too many shots early on, and that is something I changed today.

“I tried to make a plan, remained positive, and am really happy I am starting to perform in all three formats for UAE.

“I am really, really chuffed for the team as well, now we are five from five, and we are looking forward to the final. We hope we can carry on the good work.”

Mohammed Naveed, centre, celebrates the UAE's success in Kuwait with coach Dougie Brown, right, and assistant coach Dominic Telo, left. Courtesy Mohammed Naveed
Mohammed Naveed, centre, celebrates the UAE's success in Kuwait with coach Dougie Brown, right, and assistant coach Dominic Telo, left. Courtesy Mohammed Naveed

Although Suri was recruited to play at the Indian Premier League last year, T20 has often been regarded as the format of the game that suits him least.

His first senior half-century for the UAE came in a four-day match against Afghanistan last year. At the 50-over World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last month, his 78 not out against the Netherlands was perhaps one of the seminal innings for the national team.

And now he has added a half-century in the shortest format, too, earning him praise from Dougie Brown, the UAE coach.

“Chirag led by example and deserved a hundred,” Brown said. “He has worked really hard to try to up-skill himself in this format of the game.

“He is thoroughly deserving his runs. He has been a bit short of them in this tournament so far, but he is coming to terms with the pitches and the different skills you need. It will stand him in really good stead."