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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

UAE v Nepal: Mohammed Naveed confident there won't be repeat of ODI series in final T20

The home captain says 'there is no pressure', as Nepal hope to clinch the Twenty20 series in come-from-behind fashion

Mohammed Naveed's UAE side struggled in the first ODI against Zimbabwe. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Mohammed Naveed's UAE side struggled in the first ODI against Zimbabwe. Chris Whiteoak / The National

UAE captain Mohammed Naveed has urged his side to play without fear in the Anib Challenge finale against Nepal.

The Twenty20 international series is poised at 1-1 before Sunday’s final match at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

The home team were comfortable winners in the opening game on Thursday, only for Nepal to hit back a day later in front of a packed crowd in Sports City.

The UAE lost the one-day international series that preceded the T20s, despite having won the first match of that, too.

Naveed, though, is confident his side will rise to the occasion this time around.

“We were unlucky in the last game, but the boys put in a great effort,” said Naveed, who is overseeing his first series of matches as UAE captain. "We have been making some mistakes, especially in the batting, but we believe in ourselves.

"There is no pressure and I want everyone to enjoy playing in a game like this.”

The home side’s prospects have been hamstrung in both formats by under-par batting. The fact they still have a chance to win the series is testament to the excellence of their bowling.

They comfortably defended 153 in the opening T20 on Thursday, then took Nepal to the final over the following day, despite having only posted 107.

Typically, Naveed has led from the front with the ball, with a miserly economy rate of 4.62 runs per over across the two matches so far.

The national team’s efforts with the ball have been further bolstered by a fine return to the side by Sultan Ahmed.

The left-arm spinner had been out of the national team for almost two years, despite having impressed on debut against Papua New Guinea in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Having been handed a recall in the absence of the suspended spinner Ahmed Raza, Sultan has shone.

His economy rate for the series is 4.37, better even than Naveed’s, and he returned sparkling figures of 2-9 from four overs on Friday.

“When I made my debut for UAE, against PNG, I started with a maiden over,” Sultan said. “That gave me the confidence to think I could play for the national side. I was dropped then, but I am back now and am aiming to take any chances that come my way.

“I want to establish myself in the side and perform consistently for UAE.”

Nepal’s batting has also faltered, as they reached just 132-7 in the first match, then had to overcome a top-order wobble to win the second.

Nepal captain Paras Khadka is pleased his side have found a way to win, but is asking for more from the side’s misfiring top order.

“The end result is what matters, but if we can get a better start it will put us in a better position,” Khadka said. “We have set up a decider in the series and hopefully we can come up with another good performance.

“We have to start again and both teams will be equally competitive. The matches have shown that the players from both sides are very hungry to go out there and perform.

“We are trying our best and are hoping we can get that final convincing performance.”

Updated: February 3, 2019 02:03 PM

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