x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Double incentive for UAE

Arshad Ali, the in-form UAE batsman, believes his side have a mental stranglehold over their ACC Trophy rivals in Malaysia.

Arshad Ali has emerged as the in-form batsman in the ACC Trophy.
Arshad Ali has emerged as the in-form batsman in the ACC Trophy.

KUALA LUMPUR // Arshad Ali, the in-form UAE batsman, believes his side have a mental stranglehold over their ACC Trophy rivals in Malaysia. The Emirates are bidding for a fifth successive title in the competition, which brings together the top 10 sides in Asia from below the Test sphere. They have been relatively unhindered in qualifying for tomorrow's semi-final, even though they been a long way short of their best in the competition.

Victory for the UAE at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow will carry with it the prize of a place in the 2010 Asia Cup. They also played in this year's competition, in Pakistan in June, where they faced the Test sides Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Their sporadic form was most obviously emphasised in their final group game, against the host nation at the Selangor Turf Club. Having eased to 175-2 against a docile Malay bowling attack, they suffered a bizarre collapse, and lost all of their final five wickets with the score on 211.

However, Arshad, who was accused of starting the rot after falling when well set on 67, claims his side have become mentally attuned to coping with such set-backs. He said: "We did struggle, but we realised that we have some of the best players in this tournament, so we thought that if we are struggling a little bit, they would struggle as well. "I thought we could have scored 260 at one point, but unfortunately our lower order flopped."

Arshad is one of the most successful players in the history of the ACC Trophy, and he reached an aggregate of 1,000 runs in the competition during the second group game. He is certain the gap has closed between his side and the lesser nations, but they still hold the edge thanks to their experiences of playing in two Asia Cups. "I think the difference is the two or three good players extra that we have," said the Sialkot-born all-rounder. "These guys haven't had as much exposure as we have. We have played a lot of international cricket, especially with the four-day games in the ICC [Intercontinental Cup], so our knowledge is greater.

"That probably worked in our favour. But Malaysia were a very good side, especially their spinners. "With a former Test player, [Malaysia's coach, the ex-Sri Lanka wicket-keeper] Romesh Kaluwitharan, there, they have really improved, and everything is going in the right direction for them." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae Cricket, s2-3