Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Mohammed Usman keeps UAE hopes alive in T20 World Cup qualifier

Middle-order batsman hits unbeaten 89 to set up 14-run win over Canada in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 27, 2019. T20 UAE v Canada-AUH- -- Mohammad Usman of the UAE team raises his bat to the crowd. Victor Besa/The National Section: SP Reporter: Paul Radley
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 27, 2019. T20 UAE v Canada-AUH- -- Mohammad Usman of the UAE team raises his bat to the crowd. Victor Besa/The National Section: SP Reporter: Paul Radley

Mohammed Usman played a sparkling innings to help ease fraying UAE nerves, and keep alive their hopes of a place at next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

The UAE beat Canada by 14 runs at the Zayed Cricket Stadium to secure third place in Group B of the qualifier.

It means they will advance to the second phase of the competition in Dubai next week.

They will get two attempts at earning one of the four remaining qualifying places at the World Cup in 12 months’ time.

Usman came to the wicket with the UAE in trouble at 6-2 after seven balls of the match, with Rohan Mustafa and Chirag Suri both back in the dugout already.

Given what has gone on in the game here over the past month, with a corruption storm engulfing the game here, as well as the fact the stakes were so high, the innings Usman played from that point was little short of heroic.

First, he and Rameez Shahzad staunched the flow of wickets. They took the team to 48-3 before they were parted in the eighth over when Shahzad was trapped lbw by the left-arm spin of Saad Bin Safar for 27.

From then on, it was all about Usman. He was given a life on 40, when he was dropped on the backward square leg boundary.

He made the most of it with a courageous counter attack in energy-sapping heat. He went to 50 from 43 balls with a six over the mid-wicket fence, to the delight of the relatively sizeable crowd that was cheering on the national team.

He cleared the rope once more, and hit six fours, but his 73-run stand with Darius D’Silva was mostly characterised by fine running between the wickets.

Usman was 89 not out when the UAE’s innings ended on 154-5 after their 20 overs. Given the start, that represented a strong comeback.

When Canada batted, Waheed Ahmed, one of the late replacements called up to the UAE squad ahead of the tournament, again proved his growing worth with the ball.

He took 3-21 from his four overs to apply the squeeze during Canada’s middle overs, and they failed to recover as they reached 140 for five by the end of their 20.

The result meant Ireland topped Group B, and so are guaranteed a place at the World Cup next year.

Oman go through in second place, along with UAE and Hong Kong.

Earlier in the day, Papua New Guinea had become the first side to qualify for the T20 World Cup, after beating Netherlands to first place in Group A in Dubai.

It had seemed certain they would have to battle their way through the playoffs to make it when they were 19-6 in their morning match against Kenya.

Yet they somehow fought back to post 118, thanks to 54 by Norman Vanua, before bowling Kenya out for 73.

They waited on at the Dubai International Stadium to watch the match that followed.

Netherlands beat Scotland by four wickets and with three overs to spare, but that was not enough for them to better PNG’s net run-rate.

“A few years ago we would have been all out for 60 or 70 from that position,” Assad Vala, PNG’s captain, said after contributing three wickets in the win over Kenya.

“But the boys have learned, showed some character, and fought their way through to a total we believed we would have a chance to defend.

“We have come so close on so many occasions. It is something we work really hard for, and we are looking forward to it.”

Netherlands went through in second place in the group, while Namibia and Scotland also advance to the playoffs.

Updated: October 27, 2019 11:16 PM

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