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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UAE beat Namibia in Intercontinental Cup to continue fine run of form

Mufti starred with the bat, Raza with the ball as the national team made it two wins from two in cricket's long format.

Ahmed Raza took eight wickets to help the UAE to victory over Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup. Christopher Pike / The National
Ahmed Raza took eight wickets to help the UAE to victory over Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup. Christopher Pike / The National

After waiting 1,295 days for a victory in first-class cricket, the UAE have now won two in succession, after beating Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup in Windhoek.

The national team have had a difficult relationship with the long format of the game over the years.

When they beat Papua New Guinea in Abu Dhabi in April, it was the first time they had won a game wearing whites in three-and-a-half years. It is an indicator of how little they play the four-day version that their next win, at the next available opportunity, has taken five months to come around.

They made hard work of it. They eventually won by 34 runs against the Namibians, after all 40 wickets fell within three days.

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Ahmed Raza took eight wickets in the match to take the side to the win, and went top of the competition’s wicket-taking charts in the process.

“This shows the progress of our team and we are very happy about it,” Raza said. “It takes a lot more concentration that the shorter version, and you have to play each session very well.

“[Reaching the top of the wicket charts] is a great personal milestone for me, and it would be great to end up in the dream team of I-Cup. That has always been on my mind.”

The UAE’s victory effort was set up by Adnan Mufti’s first-innings century.

The left-handed batsman scored over 2,000 runs in 46 first-class matches in Pakistan, without once making a century, before he moved to UAE. He was delighted to make a first ton for the UAE given the trying circumstances.

“When I played for my region in Pakistan, we played on purely green tracks, and team scores would be 150 to 200 runs max,” Mufti said. “It was a bowling paradise, I never played on flat pitches in my home country.

“To get this one was a good achievement in the circumstances. We were under pressure on the first morning. We assumed the pitch would be difficult in the fourth innings, so we wanted to post a good total, and, thank God, I came up with a century for my team.”

The win was another notable feat in a fine run of form for the national team.

They had a first away series win in the Netherlands last time out, and the success in Windhoek came in alien conditions, played at altitude.

“It makes it hard to catch your breath after even a short sprint,” Raza said.“Winning away from home is very special. People doubted we could win away, but winning in the Netherlands and here shows signs of our progress.”

The UAE now face Namibia in two 50-over, World Cricket League matches, on Thursday and Saturday.