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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UAE set to have captain Rohan Mustafa fit for crucial clash with Nepal in Namibia

Mustafa injured his finger during Friday's loss to Canada as coach Dougie Brown demands immediate response from players to keep hopes of reaching World Cup Qualifier on track.

Caption 1: UAE's captain Rohan Mustafa in action for his country in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia. Image courtesy of Johan Jooste.
Caption 1: UAE's captain Rohan Mustafa in action for his country in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia. Image courtesy of Johan Jooste.

UAE are confident captain Rohan Mustafa will be fit for the crucial World Cricket League Division 2 meeting with Nepal in Namibia on Sunday.

Mustafa had to retire in the fourth over of the run-chase against Canada in Windhoek last time out, after being struck on the hand by Satsimranjit Dhindsa, the Canadian seamer.

He later returned to the crease when the tense match-situation demanded it. The national team were 130 for five at the time, chasing 210 to win.

Although Mustafa made it through to the close, he was left helpless on 37 not out as the UAE fell 24 runs short of a win that would have put them in a formidable position in the competition.

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The top two sides in the six-team event will advance to play at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe next month.

The UAE sit second after the first two matches, with the best net run-rate, thanks to their opening day thrashing of Kenya. However, another defeat would make progressing to the final extremely difficult.

Mustafa is key to their prospects. The national team have been transformed since he took over the captaincy a year ago, and his form in the opening two matches in Namibia has been exceptional.

He is the leading wicket-taker in the competition, with seven. His right-arm off-spin bowling would largely be unaffected by the injury, which occurred to the thumb on his left hand.

UAE's captain Rohan Mustafa receives treatment for his finger injury during the World Cricket League Division 2 match in Namibia against Canada. Image courtesy of Johan Jooste.
UAE's captain Rohan Mustafa receives treatment for his finger injury during the World Cricket League Division 2 match in Namibia against Canada. Image courtesy of Johan Jooste.

Batting, however, might prove to be uncomfortable, but the team are optimistic he will be able to take his place at the top of the order against Nepal. He is also the third-highest run-getter in the competition.

The national team will be bidding to get back on track after throwing away a winning position against Canada, who are top, undefeated after two matches.

Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, is demanding a reaction from his players, following the implosion on Friday.

“We can do one of two things: we can mope around, or we can come back like men,” Brown said.

“We are all a bit dejected at the moment, the players included, but we can’t bring that into the game against Nepal when we play them.”

The competition so far has been complicated by the weather. There has been a delayed onset of the rainy season in Namibia. When the teams arrived for the eight-day WCL Division 2, residents were feeling the effects of drought conditions that have been widely felt across southern Africa.

They have been forced to dodge torrential, electrical storms ever since. A fixture delayed by 24 hours because of a sodden outfield between Namibia and Kenya was washed out entirely on Saturday, but only once the home nation had bowled the Kenyans out for 83.

Brown said the conditions had distracted his players in the loss to Canada.

“It made it difficult, the fact you were constantly wondering when it is going to rain, and you are looking at Duckworth-Lewis calculations,” Brown said.

“The guys, in fairness to them, are not used to doing that, living in Dubai. It is easy for me to sit there and criticise, but in England you get used to playing with Duckworth-Lewis. We didn’t quite get it right.”