Emirates negotiate tricky pitch conditions to beat Bahrain by 51 runs
Three wins on the trot for UAE at regional World Twenty20 Qualifier
The UAE countered the effects of a worn pitch and a sandstorm as they extended their 100 per cent record in the opening phase of qualifying for the World Twenty20.
The comfortable 51-run win over Bahrain was their third in succession in the six-team regional qualifying event in Kuwait City. Progress to the Asia Qualifier, as one of the top three sides, will be assured if they beat last-placed Maldives on Tuesday.
The national team’s clinical performance belied testing conditions. High winds whipped sand from the desert across the field, to the extent that players wore makeshift masks when they were watching play.
A slow, cracked pitch also made scoring difficult, but a brisk half-century by Mohammed Usman helped hoist the UAE to 149-9 from their 20 overs.
Usman hit four sixes in his 33-ball innings of 52, and shared in a decisive 65-run stand with captain Rohan Mustafa.
Bahrain fell short after a disciplined effort by a UAE bowling attack that was without its main strike spearhead, Mohammed Naveed, who had been rested.
Seam bowler Qadeer Ahmed landed the match award after he picked up 4-17 in four overs made up almost exclusively of slower balls.
“Usman and Rohan batted really, really well, took time to get themselves in on a difficult surface, and then Usman started to be very dominant and express himself,” UAE coach Dougie Brown said.
“He did really well to score his runs, and was well supported. We set a decent platform, but lost our way at the end of the innings, losing five wickets in the last 10 balls when we were trying to get on with it, which was disappointing.”
UAE at T20 tournament
The win was also significant for the senior competitive debut of Fahad Nawaz, the teenaged all-rounder from Ajman.
The young debutant was the captain of the UAE side that qualified for the final phase of the Asia Under 19 Cup last year. The selectors are hopeful players from that age-group side will start to challenge the seniors of the national team for places.
Nawaz was called into the squad for the tournament in Kuwait after Ahmed Raza, the first-choice left-arm spinner, was unavailable due to work commitments.
Although Nawaz is recognised as a batting all-rounder – he opened for the U19 team – his first notable impact was with the ball for the senior side. He took 2-15 against Bahrain, in four overs that included a maiden.
“It was another professional performance, and great to see Fahad getting a chance,” Brown said. “He bowled really well. We know his left-arm spin is not the main part of his game, his batting is, but we need as many spin options as we can.
“He got the opportunity today and he grabbed it with both hands.”