- National team beat the Maldives by 43 runs in Kuwait City
- Mohammed Usman again plays a central role in the victory
- Four wins from four matches sends the UAE on to World T20 Asia Qualifier
UAE claim fourth straight win to reach next stage of 2020 World Twenty20 qualifying
Mohammed Usman played a second match-turning innings in the space of two days to guide the UAE through to the next phase of qualifying for the 2020 World Twenty20.
The left-handed batsman was named man of the match for a dogged innings worth 43 that set the platform for a 43-run win over the Maldives in Kuwait City.
It was the UAE’s fourth successive win in the six-team regional event, and guaranteed them one of the three berths on offer for the World T20 Asia Qualifier.
The national team are comfortably the highest-rated side in the competition. Maldives, by contrast, had lost all of their matches to date.
However, they struggled with the bat, losing four wickets in the six power-play overs at the start of their innings.
Their toils spoke much of a precarious wicket. The start of the match itself had been delayed as the sides waited for the pitch to dry, after the groundsmen had drenched it in a bid to ward off excessive spin.
Following the troubled start, Usman and Mohammed Boota repaired the innings with an alliance worth 73, before UAE were bowled out for 123.
If UAE’s well-credentialled batsmen struggled it was likely to be tough for Maldives. They managed just 80, in 16.3 overs, with Rohan Mustafa taking three wickets, and Zahoor Khan and Fahad Nawaz two apiece.
Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, is happy Usman has been getting the rewards his efforts have deserved in Kuwait this week, having operated largely in the background during the bigger tests so far this year.
In the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last month, Usman played a vital role in the win over the Netherlands that essentially secured one-day international status for UAE – only to be overshadowed by Chirag Suri’s match-winning half-century. He also struck a fine 80 in a losing cause against Scotland in Harare.
“We made things difficult for ourselves, losing four soft wickets, putting ourselves behind the game, so the partnership Usman had with Boota was top-class,” Brown said.
“[Usman] has gone a little unnoticed, but this tournament, he has played a couple of exceptional innings, particularly when we have been under pressure and needed him to step forward.
“We know his value, and it was great to see him getting a well-deserved man of the match award. We are delighted he is playing as well as he is, it makes life easy for us knowing we have that skill in the middle order.”
The tournament in Kuwait is the first hurdle on a lengthy road to the main tournament in Australia in two years’ time.
The top three teams will advance to play against three sides emerging from October’s Eastern regional qualifier in Malaysia. That event involves Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, Singapore and hosts Malaysia. Two teams from the Asia Qualifier advance to the global qualifier.
Although progress from Kuwait has been secured, Brown wants his side to make a statement in the remaining games.
“We are delighted to get the win and be four from four, which takes us through to the next round of the qualifiers,” Brown said. “But it would be nice to go through the tournament unbeaten, and that has got to be the next challenge.”