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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

UAE lose Indoor Cricket World Cup opener in front of packed crowd at Insportz Dubai

Standing room only as national team go down to Jesse Ryder's New Zealand 125 runs to 111

Jesse Ryder's New Zealand team beat the UAE by 125 runs to 111 to kick off the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz Club in Al Quoz in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Jesse Ryder's New Zealand team beat the UAE by 125 runs to 111 to kick off the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz Club in Al Quoz in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

A warehouse in Al Quoz is an unlikely place for a World Cup. Not that the flagship event of cricket’s indoor variety is exactly one of international sport’s most renown events, of course.

Unlike Fifa, Uefa, or even the ICC, the World Indoor Cricket Federation probably did not pay much thought to empowering a local organising committee to dream up a park and ride scheme to manage the weight of traffic for their event.

Maybe they should have done, given the resounding popularity of Day 1 of the Indoor Cricket World Cup Dubai 2017.

And the carnage of trying to find space to park, either on the sand or in the laneways around the bakeries and garages of Al Quoz 3, was nothing compared to what was going on inside.

When the UAE played New Zealand in the first round of the Open Men’s competition, it was standing room only.

India and Sri Lanka might have been playing matches on the neighbouring courts, but it was clear who the majority were here to see.

The narrow viewing areas beside the small block of wooden bleachers behind the bowler’s arm were 10 deep by the end.

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Noise boomed down off the sports centre’s tin ceiling. When Sameer Nayak smacked the last ball of the fourth over of the UAE’s reply for a six – which, because of the peculiarities of indoor cricket, counts as seven – it felt as though the roof was going to come off.

Nayak himself let out a roar, knowing the blow had secured the host nation their first “skin” of the competition.

Each indoor cricket international is divided into four segments of four overs, basically a battle between the respective pairs of each team.

Spectators packed out the Insportz Club in Al Quoz, Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Spectators packed out the Insportz Club in Al Quoz, Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Even though the home team eventually lost overall by 125 runs to 111, they only trailed in the second set of four overs – which was the segment in which Jesse Ryder, the New Zealand Test player, batted.

The UAE might have lost the match in the final count up, but won three of the four skins. As such, New Zealand got four points overall from the match – three for the win, and one for a skin – to the UAE’s three.

No wonder they appeared the happier side when they left the court, to a massive ovation from the supporters.

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“We play to win and losing is not a good feeling inside, but we have a moral victory because we got three skins from a quality side like New Zealand,” Saqib Nazir, the UAE captain, said.

“Nobody expected that. We believe in our ability. This team will go far. We need to capitalise when we get chances, and we could have done better bowling.”

Another unexpected event was the pre-match Haka delivered by the New Zealanders, although Nazir revealed his side knew the war dance was planned.

New Zealand players performing the Haka in front of the UAE players before the start of Indoor Cricket World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National
New Zealand players performing the Haka in front of the UAE players before the start of Indoor Cricket World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National

They even had a response ready. “We wanted to do the UAE traditional dance, but unfortunately we are not allowed to dance,” Nazir said.

South Africa, India and defending champions Australia were also winners on a rousing day for the format.

“Cricket is growing at a fast pace in this region, and we hope the World Cup will play a significant role in growing the sport in the region,” Greg Donnelly, the president of the WICF, said.

“While indoor cricket has a strong base in countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it is heartening to see countries like Malaysia and Singapore here with us, it is a sign that the future of the sport is secure.”