x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Khurram Khan makes it count for the UAE against Ireland

Flight purses weighs in with a century to keep Intercontinental Cup match alive.

Khurram Khan bats for UAE in Sharjah.
Khurram Khan bats for UAE in Sharjah.

Ireland 589-7 (dec)

UAE 302-6

SHARJAH // Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, reinforced his reputation as one of the leading batsmen beyond the Test arena with a faultless century against Ireland.

The 41-year-old flight purser's efforts went a long way towards helping the UAE save this Intercontinental Cup tie against the sport's leading force at this level.

However, once he fell to Trent Johnston and the second new-ball there was a clatter of five quick wickets, meaning the home team still have much to do.

Although more wickets would have to fall today than in the previous three days combined, the UAE have to bat watchfully to make the game safe.

"I wanted to stay there longer but it was not to be," said Khurram.

"If we can bat through till lunch we will be in a more secure position.

"By the look of how the wicket is playing we still have to do a little more to save the match. From my point of view it has not been saved yet."

The sense that it is all hands to the pump for the national team was emphasised by Saqib Shah walking out to bat at No 8.

The Abu Dhabi-based batsman had been inked in to open the batting before the game, only for him to suffer injury on the first day of his debut for UAE.

An MRI scan on Tuesday evening revealed rupturing to the deltoid in his left shoulder.

He spent all of Wednesday sat in the dressing room with his arm in a sling, yet still played through the pain to help his team.

"I am happy to bat even if I am feeling some pain," Shah said. "But I really wanted to bat on this wicket.

"My plan was to bat [today] but suddenly three wickets went quickly, so I had to go in."

Both these teams know this first-class match pales in significance compared to the pair of World Cup qualifying matches they will contest here next week.

Each has been trying to inflict the maximum psychological damage on their opponents, while revealing the least of themselves at the same time.

For the UAE's part, they will be very satisfied with what has transpired thus far.

Yes, they were forced to field for 163 overs and the best part of two days at the start of the game.

However, they still emerged from that slog in chipper mood, and few secrets have been divulged about their bowling, given that their attack will change wholesale for the limited-over games.

As many as four front-line bowlers could be restored to the line up, with the likes of the Nasir Aziz, Kamran Shahzad and Manjula Guruge all, as yet, unseen by the Irish batsmen.

Yesterday also saw the return to form of Arshad Ali as a batsman. He was due to bat at No 7 but was elevated to open due to Shah's injury, and ended up making a fine 95. "He has made a century against Ireland before and he was telling us he was going to do the same again," Khurram said of his partner in a 207-run alliance for the second wicket. "It was not meant to be but it was still a very good knock."

pradley@thenational.ae

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