Mohammed Tauqir served notice that there are still plenty of miles left in him as he bowled the UAE to an eight-wicket win over Bahrain.
Tauqir proves his worth in victory
KUALA LUMPUR // Mohammed Tauqir served notice that there are still plenty of miles left in his limbs as he bowled the UAE to an emphatic eight-wicket win over Bahrain in the ACC Trophy. The Emirati off-spinner is now one of the elder statesmen in a refreshingly youthful Emirates line-up at the Kuala Lumpur tournament.
He is 36 and playing in his seventh Trophy competition, but his haul of 4-19 against Bahrain was proof, if any were needed, that he remains one the country's most important cricketers. "I was very pleased I could contribute to this victory," said Tauqir, who landed the man-of-the-match award for his exploits. "I'm still pretty fit - I work on that a lot. I have played here in Malaysia lots of times, so I know the conditions.
"You still have to bowl the ball in the right area if you are going to perform well, and I was pleased I was able to do that. "Now we have a very important game [today against the tournament hosts Malaysia at the Selangor Turf Club]." Such a landslide win was the clearest indication that the UAE have rid themselves of the complacency which cost them a shock opening day defeat to Saudi Arabia - the lowest-ranked team in the competition.
Bahrain, by contrast, were buoyed by a massive 198-run success over the Saudis and justly felt they had a chance of upstaging the four-time champions from across the Gulf. However, their optimism proved misplaced following a meek middle-order capitulation. The collapse was brought about as much by adept captaincy from Khurram Khan as good bowling from Tauqir. Khurram used his experience at the Bayeumas Oval as he used his options well. Of the starting XI against Bahrain, nine bowl regularly for their domestic club sides, and Khurram knew exactly who to use and when.
Thanks mainly to a ferocious 47 from Imran Sajjad, Bahrain hinted that an upset might not be beyond them by racing to 90-2 inside 18 overs. Sajjad welcomed Riaz Khaliq, the UAE's new mystery spinner, into the attack by launching his very first ball for six - smashing a tile on the recently-laid pavilion roof in the process. However, Riaz was soon laughing the loudest, as he dismissed Sajjad to break the back of the Bahrain resistance.
With Tauqir wheeling away reliably at the other end, Khurram smartly juggled his aces, bringing back Zahid Shah to kill off the Bahrain tail. Faced with the UAE's quickest bowler - albeit a patched up Zahid, who was playing with a heavily-strapped left-hand after he split the webbing between finger and thumb in an earlier match - Bahrain subsided. They lost their final eight wickets for just 32 runs, leaving a victory target of a mere 123 which proved easy for the Emirates batsmen.
Arshad Ali, the player of the tournament at the last ACC Trophy, continued his affinity with Kuala Lumpur as he helped himself to an unbeaten 46. Rameez Shahzad was playing his first match of the tournament after only arriving the day before the game. He had been granted special dispensation to stay behind in Dubai to sit the final exam of his foundation course at Middlesex University. It looked like he had never been away, as he promptly crashed his first ball to the extra cover fence, as he notched up an attracting 29 not out.