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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE 'ready to compete at the world stage' after thrilling last-ball win over England at Indoor Cricket World Cup in Dubai

The win over England – in which they accrued three points for a win, plus two bonus skins – has left UAE targeting a semi-final berth

UAE players celebrate beating England at the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz Dubai. Indoor Cricket World Cup
UAE players celebrate beating England at the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz Dubai. Indoor Cricket World Cup

Saqib Nazir, the UAE captain, says the national team have proved they belong on the global stage after a thrilling one-run win over England in the Indoor Cricket World Cup.

The victory was the UAE’s first in four attempts at their maiden World Cup, which is being staged at Insportz, Dubai this week.

Because of the way indoor cricket is structured, the UAE retain serious aspirations of reaching the knockout stage of the nine-team event, despite their three opening losses.

They had aimed for six “skins” – or bonus points – from their tough three opening matches against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. They exceeded that tally by one.

The win over England – in which they accrued three points for a win, plus two bonus skins – has left them targeting a semi-final berth.

Nazir hopes it is the start of the UAE becoming regular participants in the format’s World Cup.

“Indoor cricket in the UAE is flourishing,” Nazir said.

“I think it is time it gets its due credit, because lots of people play. I think there are maybe 20,000 people who play here. It is high time the [Emirates Cricket Board] stepped up and gave credit to indoor cricket.

“I so wish this [playing at every World Cup] would happen, because the boys are brilliant. We have depth in the squad, and the people who are not selected can make it next time.

“I have been playing for 13 years here, and the standard has really gone up in that time. I think the UAE is ready to compete at the world stage.”

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As has become the norm at this World Cup at Insportz, the atmosphere courtside was pulsating.

When England were in the ascendant, their travelling supporters sang “Swing Low”, the song more readily associated with the England rugby team.

As UAE fought back, the home supporters found their voice, and created a cacophony by beating a tune on the wooden benches of the viewing area.

It all reached a crescendo when Prasanth Kumara, the UAE’s regular wicketkeeper but who was tasked with bowling the pressure final over, sent down the last ball.

He conceded just one to give the hosts a slender win and spark a jubilant celebration.

“There was big pressure, but I was getting a good clap from our local support,” Kumara said.

“I tried with my heart, and bowled it with maximum pace. I was just trying to make sure he could only get one run, even if he hit the ball.

“It feels really good, especially after having three close losses. We know each other well, most of us having been playing together for seven or eight years, so we are trying our best to reach the semi-final.”

UAE batsman Isuru Umesh plays a shot during the match against England at the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz club in Dubai. Indoor Cricket World Cup
UAE batsman Isuru Umesh plays a shot during the match against England at the Indoor Cricket World Cup at Insportz club in Dubai. Indoor Cricket World Cup

Anish Patel, the England captain, said his side were not shocked by how good the UAE were, and they see them as rivals for a last-four berth.

“We knew when we came here there were three sides classified a lot higher than the rest of us: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa,” Anish said.

“The rest of us are kind of battling it out for that semi-final place. We knew we had to beat UAE anyway, but how good they have been and how well they have played, and what a bright future they have, is apparent.

“We knew we were in for a battle. In a way, we are a bit disappointed, because the way we set up the game, we should have won.”