x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Emirates reach semi-finals

Arshad Ali continued his affinity with the ACC Trophy by dragging the UAE to a 57-run win against the host nation Malaysia.

Mohammed Iqbal makes his gound against Malaysia. His knock of 43 and Arshad Ali's 67 formed the crux of the team total of 211.
Mohammed Iqbal makes his gound against Malaysia. His knock of 43 and Arshad Ali's 67 formed the crux of the team total of 211.

KUALA LUMPUR // Arshad Ali continued his affinity with the ACC Trophy by dragging his fitful UAE side to what turned out to be a comfortable 57-run win against the host nation Malaysia. Victory cemented a semi-final place for the defending champions, but their coach Vasbert Drakes is still not satisfied with the way his side are performing.

The former West Indies star said: "The positive is that we won the match comfortably in the end. "We bowled well, the spinners have been bowling well all throughout the tournament. There were also three run outs, which shows we fielded well, and the keeper [Amjad Ali] did well, so there are a lot of positives. "But we still have a lot of grey areas, where you just feel we can play a lot better. We are disappointed in general with the collective effort of the team."

Arshad, who was the player of the tournament two years ago, struck a neat 67, but his departure sparked a worrying collapse for the four-time Trophy winners. The Emirates were progressing smoothly at 211-5, even though their scoring rate had been checked by the canny Malaysia slow-bowlers. Then Dinesh Muthuraman, the left-arm spinner, changed the complexion of the innings as he took four wickets for no runs in his ninth over, including a hat-trick from the first three balls.

Rameez Shahzad dragged the first ball back on to his stumps. Then Muthuraman induced leading edges from both Shadeep Silva and Shoaib Sarwar, pouching the return catches himself. As if the hat-trick was not enough, he then had Zahid Shah caught behind off the last ball. The collapse proved terminal when Mohammed Tauqir was caught at the wicket two balls into the next over, and the UAE had remarkably lost their final five wickets with the score on 211.

Despite the nature of the touring side's capitulation, a total of 212 was always likely to be a tricky chase. The ball was turning prodigiously for the Malaysia spinners, and Zahid Shah, the UAE's pace talisman, immediately found some uneven bounce. He trapped Nasir Ali plumb in front on the fifth ball of the host nation's reply. When Khurram Khan, the captain, brilliantly ran out Muthuraman with a direct hit, the likelihood of an upset seemed remote.

Whatever the Malaysians could put up in the way of spinners, the UAE were always likely to better. The Emirates twirlers have got the better of far more experienced batsmen than they were faced with yesterday, and revelled in their chance to demonstrate their class. Shadeep made the initial in-roads, having two batsmen smartly stumped by Amjad Ali, and ended with 3-19 as Malaysia eventually subsided to 154 all out.

Arshad will never tire of playing in Kuala Lumpur. The UAE batsman said: "I think this is my 12th or 13th man-of-the-match in [ACC Trophy] tournaments. "The wickets are not that easy to play on - especially this one. We lost our last five wickets in just eight balls. "That means we struggled with the bat. We have experience in the top five of the batting order, and we managed to keep our side up. "But these guys [the Malaysian players] are not like before - they have really improved."

Rohan Vishnu Suppiah, the Malaysia captain, added: "We came back so well to keep them to 211. On any day, on any wicket, I would have taken that score against the UAE. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae