Lose by four wickets in Windhoek, Namibia, to leave them needing to win remaining two matches in the World Cricket League Division 2 to have any chance of reaching World Cup Qualifier.
Nepal defeat leaves UAE up against it in hopes of reaching World Cup 2019
The prospects of the UAE playing any further part in World Cup qualifying past this week have suffered a major blow, after they lost to Nepal in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia.
The four-wicket defeat in Windhoek was the national team’s second in succession. It means they are now must win both their remaining matches, against Oman on Monday and Namibia on Wednesday, to stand any chance of advancing to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe next month.
Even if they do achieve the victories, they will be dependent on a seemingly-unlikely run of results going their way elsewhere. The opening day thrashing of Kenya feels like an age ago now.
Both UAE and Nepal were highly frustrated by a three-hour delay to the start of the match, caused by a sodden outfield at the United Sports ground, in the south eastern suburbs of Namibia’s capital.
Each were impatient to get started, knowing they needed a win to help their chances of progressing from this event as one of the two top sides in the six-team pool.
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Heavy rain the previous afternoon had left the lower side of the field like a quagmire. Rugby is also played on this field, and it seemed better suited to that sport than cricket.
The groundstaff did an admirable job of making it playable, given the resources at hand. This involved nailing mats to the ground to cover the worse effected areas.
Sawdust was sprinkled liberally across the field. And the staff danced along hessian sheets to mop up an excess moisture. Once the officials finally deemed it safe, there was enough time left for a 34-over match.
The UAE’s mood then dramatically worsened when, once the toss finally did happen, it fell Nepal’s way.
They were inserted on a sticky dog, which was expertly exploited by Sompal Kami, the Nepal pace-bowler. Ashfaq Ahmed, who had been the tournament’s leading run-scorer to that point, fell to the first ball he faced, giving Kami the first of four victims.
His efforts with the new ball were then complemented skillfully by Sandeep Lamichhane, the teenage leg-spinner who is heading to the Indian Premier League.
The 17-year-old slow-bowler tore the heart out of the UAE middle-order, with two wickets in two balls in his first over, then another in his third.
The UAE crumbled to 114 all out in 30 overs. Although they railed against the inevitable, reducing Nepal to 20 for three, Paras Khadka, the opposing captain, extinguished their challenge masterfully.
Khadka appeared to be batting on a different pitch to everybody else, reaching 51 from 48 balls. Included in his five sixes were two massive blows off Ahmed Raza which ended up the other side of the electric fence that marks the perimeter of the premises.
“The wicket was such that you could get out at any time,” Khadka said, having been given the man of the match award.
“You have to back yourself, and fortunately that plan worked for me. I backed myself and the runs came.
“Chasing a low total, we knew that if one of the batsmen goes out there and gets a 50 or 60, we would be able to make it. Fortunately, I managed to do that.”
With just two points from the six available so far, the UAE’s chances of making the final are slim.
“Take nothing away from Nepal, they bowled really well in very favourable conditions,” Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said.
“I thought we fought back really hard, the way the bowlers came in very well at the start, but Paras’s innings changed the whole course of the game.
“What we need to address is the fact that, even in difficult conditions, 20 more runs would have made a lot of difference to the outcome of the game.
“As well as they bowled, we contributed to our own demise on too many occasions. It is something for us to worry about, and now we have to hope results go for us.”