x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emirates finish off Uganda in time for lunch and net practice

UAE are pushing their case to play in the Intercontinental Cup after a convincing eight-wicket win in the World Cricket League Division Two.

Ahmed Raza holds the man-of-the-match award yesterday. UAE beat Uganda by eight wickets in Dubai.
Ahmed Raza holds the man-of-the-match award yesterday. UAE beat Uganda by eight wickets in Dubai.

DUBAI // The UAE's cricketers enjoyed a rare afternoon to themselves after sauntering to a fourth consecutive victory in the World Cricket League yesterday.

The ease with which they settled their eight-wicket win over Uganda before 1pm was a variation on a well established theme.

When the UAE last played a series against the African side at home, just over a year ago, they won their first 50-over match in Sharjah with 44 overs to spare.

Seeing as most of their players had taken a day's leave from work to play that day, they decided to make the most of it by spending the rest of the afternoon having a practice session.

They finished so early again this time around that the lunch vouchers were being handed around at the same time as Ahmed Raza, the in-form spinner, was receiving his man-of-the-match memento.

The end came almost too quickly for some. Naeemuddin Aslam, the national team batsman who is a full-time member of staff at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Global Cricket Academy, where the match was played, was nearly coaxed in to work the rest of the day.

Judging by the ruthlessness of their victory push, the UAE players feel they have something to prove in this tournament.

There are various incentives on offer in the World Cricket League Division Two, which involves six countries who make up the second tier of the non-Test game.

The UAE have already achieved the first goal, clinching a place in the top four that earns them a high performance grant from the ICC.

Of the four top nations, the governing body will decide who will be included in the next edition of the Intercontinental Cup, the premier four-day tournament, irrespective of who finishes where at the end of this competition.

On this form, the UAE are doing all they can to prove they deserve inclusion and force the ICC's hand at the development committee's May 7 meeting. Yesterday's win was again built by their battery of slow bowlers.

Arshad Ali and Shadeep Silva, two of the top four wicket-takers in the tournament, took three early wickets, before Raza mopped up the middle order with four for 17 as Uganda crumbled to 87 all out.

It was not the first time Raza has been a hero this week.

There are few better equipped No 11s going around cricket than the 22-year-old Pakistani, and his side were indebted to him with the bat for an opening day win over Namibia.

However, he was keen to prove his worth in his main suit, as a left-arm spin bowler, after an uncharacteristically errant display the day before.

"I had an off day against Hong Kong [on Monday] so I was focused about coming back and having a good game against Uganda," Raza said. "The senior players and the coach backed me to come back and perform in this game, and it gave me belief in myself as well that I could do well."

In the day's other games, Namibia beat Bermuda by 86 runs and Hong Kong lost to Papua New Guinea by 43 runs.

pradley@thenational.ae