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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Dougie Brown backs UAE to rebound after Asia Cup hopes suffer major blow at hands of Hong Kong

Coach says team capable of immediate response after 182-run loss in Kuala Lumpur puts dent in what had previously been formidable net run-rate

Captain Rohan Mustafa, pictured in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, top-scored for the UAE against Hong Kong with 33. Courtesy Johan Jooste
Captain Rohan Mustafa, pictured in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, top-scored for the UAE against Hong Kong with 33. Courtesy Johan Jooste

UAE coach Dougie Brown is demanding an immediate response from his side after a thrashing at the hands of Hong Kong threw their chances of qualifying for the Asia Cup into doubt.

The 182-run loss meant the UAE slipped from first to third in the six-team group. The winners of Thursday’s final, between the top two sides in the league phase, will advance to the main competition, which starts in Dubai on September 15.

The national team are well aware of the threat posed by their opponents, having lost matches to Hong Kong in all three formats in the past.

However, the manner of the implosion was a shock given more recent form. Riding high from a fine finish to the World Cup Qualifier in March, followed by a Twenty20 tournament in Kuwait, UAE won their opening two matches in Malaysia, against Singapore and Nepal, in convincing fashion.

And yet they faltered dramatically after inviting Hong Kong to bat first.

Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat both scored centuries, as they shared in a second-wicket stand worth 180.

After Hong Kong posted 275-8 off a revised 49 overs, UAE collapsed to 93 all out, with only captain Rohan Mustafa, who had earlier taken three wickets, registering a score of any note, as he made 33.

Realistically, the national team now have to win both their remaining match – against hosts Malaysia on Sunday, then table-toppers Oman on Tuesday – to stand a chance of making the final.

“What is important, and the side of a good side when you get a setback, as all good teams do, is how the team responds,” Brown said.

“By a mile, that is the most important thing. We have asked for a response from all the players tomorrow [on Sunday], and I’m sure that we will get it. The tournament is wide open.

“Yes, this has affected our net run rate fairly miserably [UAE now trail Hong Kong by 0.82 on run-rate, having started the match ahead by 2.59] but it is still pretty much within our hands.

“We have to win the next two games, that is what our sight is, to make the final. We can’t get to the final if we don’t, and we have to make sure we turn up [to face Malaysia] with the bat, which we didn’t do today.”

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Read more:

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

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Dougie Brown, right, conceded the UAE players were feeling a little flat after the result. Satish Kumar for The National
Dougie Brown, right, conceded the UAE players were feeling a little flat after the result. Satish Kumar for The National

Brown said his side remain confident, with suggesting the bad performance was an anomaly.

“We bowled really well but just didn’t manage to create any opportunities,” Brown said. “Hayat and Rath played outstandingly well. They didn’t give a chance.

“We spoke at half time about trying to adopt the style of cricket that we know works for us, trying to set up a platform, but we didn’t bat the way we normally bat.

“Did we come into the game expecting things just to happen, given how we had played? I don’t think so. But one thing is for certain, it doesn’t make us a bad team overnight.”

Oman now top the table, and are the only side to have a 100 per cent record in tact, after they chased 216 to beat Singapore with eight wickets and over 23 overs to spare.

Nepal gave themselves a chance of making the final as they claimed a tense win over Malaysia – their first win in three attempts so far.