Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

For UAE’s Mohammed Naveed, at least, mission accomplished with six off Dale Steyn

The UAE faced another tough day at the park on Thursday in a 146-run loss to South Africa, but Mohammed Naveed made a memory with a well-thumped six off premier paceman Dale Steyn.
UAE's Mohammad Naveed scored 17 runs off 15 balls in his innings against South Africa at the Cricket World Cup on Thursday. Anthony Phelps / Reuters / March 12, 2015
UAE's Mohammad Naveed scored 17 runs off 15 balls in his innings against South Africa at the Cricket World Cup on Thursday. Anthony Phelps / Reuters / March 12, 2015

WELLINGTON // Seeing as they have been fighting against tanks with pea-shooters for much of this Cricket World Cup, the UAE have had to take their triumphs where they can find them.

Another day, another hefty defeat against a top nation. But also, another forget-me-not.

Mohammed Naveed’s work colleagues in the accounts department of United Bank Limited in Dubai, and his mates in Fujairah better be warned: when he gets back home next week, he is going to have some stories to tell.

And they had better believe him, too. Because he actually did hit Dale Steyn for six in the World Cup. It was not a small one, either. It went 15 rows back, into the lonely expanse of seats behind the long-on boundary at The Cake Tin in Wellington.

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How he will have loved that. At a pre-tournament meeting with his coaches, Naveed – who is the leading strike bowler in the team – had said his lone target for the World Cup was to hit Steyn for six. Mission accomplished.

His day had already been memorable enough. At the start of his innings, when he had still been on nought, Naveed had been hit on the head by a well-aimed bouncer by Vernon Philander.

It flicked off the UAE crest at the front of his helmet, deflected over the wicketkeeper for four leg-byes, and he went down the wicket to discuss it with his batting partner, Swapnil Patil, with a broad grin on his face.

Earlier on, in his main suit as the UAE’s new-ball bowler, he had picked up 3 for 63. The bare figures do not seem like much of an achievement.

Bear in mind, though, he was playing against a side who have racked up 400 twice so far in this competition, and are regarded by AB de Villiers, their captain, as being the best side in it.

Plus, he is tasked with bowling at the top of the innings, when the ball flies fastest off the bat, as well as in the power-play and death overs, when the slog is on.

This time round, he also faced the indignity of having to apologise to Hashim Amla, the South Africa opener, after he unleashed an ugly beamer at the end of a nightmarish first over.

He was lucky only to go for 10 in that over. The way he recovered his poise from there was remarkable, given his pedigree in the sport before this World Cup had not extended much past tape-ball cricket in the street.

He bounced back, and bounced out Amla – the world’s second best batsman, according to the rankings – for 12 shortly after.

Not that it counts for anything in the final reckoning, the UAE could take some solace from the fact their concession of 341 for 6 was a lot less than West Indies and Ireland gave up against South Africa.

They probably would have taken that at the start, too. So unrelenting can the Proteas be, Mohammed Tauqir had joked the best way to stop them racking up 400 would be to win the toss and bat first.

The UAE captain was forced to acknowledge the day before that he had made that statement in jest, and he backed that up by opting to field first when he won the flip of the coin.

And Tauqir’s own parsimonious spell with the ball was one of a couple of bright performances from the national team’s bowlers.

His off-breaks went for just 47, and he claimed the wicket of Rilee Rossouw.

Perhaps more significantly than anything else, at one point during the middle of the innings, the UAE had Emiratis bowling from both ends, with Tauqir being complemented by Fahad Al Hashmi.

The bank relationships manager and the policeman did a decent job of shackling the celebrated batsmen at the other end, too.

However, the national team were overpowered by a side from a different league to them. De Villiers made 99, Farhaan Behardien 65 in 31 balls, before Morne Morkel took 2 for 23 in 10 overs of extreme pace and bounce, as the Proteas won by 146 runs.

While they will now be plotting their path through the knock out stages, the UAE players will be starting to think about the flight home, and how they are going to start those stories.

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Updated: March 12, 2015 04:00 AM

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