Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 June 2020

UAE save the best until last as they thrash Kuwait in final to seal Western Region T20 title

Sultan and Raza have opposition in a spin to help side win by 102 runs and clinch place in next phase of Asia Cup qualifying

Chirag Suri top scored with 60 for the UAE in their demolition of Kuwait on Thursday.
Chirag Suri top scored with 60 for the UAE in their demolition of Kuwait on Thursday.

Sultan Ahmed and Ahmed Raza bowled UAE to the Western Region T20 title as the national team saved their best performance of the tournament for last.

A day after wrapping up the important business of clinching a place in the next phase of Asia Cup qualifying, the UAE secured the trophy as they thrashed Kuwait by 102 runs in the final.

Chirag Suri made his third half-century in the space of four days and top scored with 60, before a late blitz of sixes by Waheed Ahmed helped UAE reach 199-5 from their 20 overs.

Kuwait were blown away by the left-arm spin duo of Sultan and Raza in reply.

Sultan took four for nine to land the player of the match award, while his captain took two for eight as Kuwait managed just 97-7 in reply.

“This was probably our best performance in this tournament,” Raza said. “I am glad it came in the final and was happy to lift the trophy.

“In a tournament like this, when you pick a squad and you have a lot of debutantes and youngsters, the seniors have to take a lot of responsibility, including myself.

“I think we did that. The youngsters were able to play around us. I hope they learned a lot from this."

Raza’s effort with the ball was the latest thrifty return of a career that has been marked by parsimony.

The Sharjah-born spinner is now the eighth most economical bowler in the history of T20 international cricket, of bowlers who have sent down a minimum of 500 deliveries.

That puts him ahead of the likes of Shahid Afridi, Jasprit Bumrah and Saeed Ajmal, and the 31-year-old spinner is proud to be in that sort of company.

“It is a great thing to be in a top 10 list like that,” Raza said. “I always try to bowl economical spells. That gives me more joy than anything else.

“Being the captain but still being able to deliver with the ball is the cherry on top, because there is so much going on in your head: whom to bowl when, and what situation you are bowling into.

“So to have some appreciation of that sort is always welcome.”

Sultan does not yet feature on that list, but it seems just a matter of time.

He has only bowled 432 deliveries in his T20I career to date, but his current career economy rate of 5.91 would put him second on the list behind Daniel Vettori.

“He bowls at tough times, because he opens the bowling for us when there are more fielders in the circle,” Raza said of Sultan.

“A lot of credit should go to him. He is a gun fielder as well, and can whack it at the back end of the innings, so he is a very valuable player for us.”

Updated: February 27, 2020 06:54 PM

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