The UAE cricket team defeated Kenya by 266 runs to start their Intercontinental Cup campaign with an outright win and 14 points.
UAE cricket earns another historic win in Kenya
Kenya holds a special place in the annals of UAE cricket. It was there that the UAE beat every team in the 1994 ICC Trophy to qualify for the 1996 World Cup.
Now the African nation will enjoy another prominent mention in the history of UAE cricket after a Khurram Khan-led side defeated Kenya by 266 runs in Nairobi to start their Intercontinental Cup campaign with an outright win and 14 points.
Needing six wickets to win the match on the fourth and final day, the UAE bowlers took little time to clean up the lower order. Resuming on 76 for four, the hosts were bowled out for 167 with Shoaib Sarwar, Amjad Javed and Mohammed Tauqir taking two wickets apiece.
"In recent times, this has to be one of the very, very big wins for us," said Mohammed Lokhandwala, the team manager. "Kenya are a power among associate nations. They have appeared in so many World Cups and reached the semi-finals in 2003. So they have a lot of experience at this level.
"We beat them in the 50-over match [for the first time in 10 years] and then the four-day as well. Of course, the four-day is more important because it is an official match."
Officials of the Emirates Cricket Board were also delighted with the result. Mazhar Khan, an ECB administrator, saluted the team, especially the senior trio of Saqib Ali, Amjad Javed and team captain Khurram, who recorded centuries in UAE's second innings score of 439 for eight declared.
"These seniors, they are our stars," Khan said. "Their contribution to UAE cricket is phenomenal, right from the captain to the vice-captain and down the line. I believe the juniors should take a leaf out of their performances and learn from them, the way to handle the pressure of such games.
"We highly appreciate the seniors, who have contributed so much to UAE cricket over the years. We wish and hope Khurram Khan plays another five years for us."
Khurram was the leading performer for the UAE, scoring a defiant 85 in the first innings when the UAE were dismissed for 213. In the second innings, he smashed a 142-ball 113.
Saqib contributed a 153 in the second innings and Amjad Javed took five wickets in the match and scored a 100.
"Saqib, his 150-plus knock really made a huge difference," Lokhandwala said. "Khurram played good knocks in both the innings. Amjad had a 100 and five wickets in the match. The others played their part as well. So there are a few boys who put their hands up."
The win was particularly impressive since the UAE hardly plays the longer version of the game. At home, domestic cricket is dominated by Twenty20s. Adapting to the longer version of the game was one of coach Kabir Khan's greatest concern before he left for Kenya.
"In the UAE, we don't play anything more than 50-overs," said Lokhandwala. "We did not even have time to prepare as well as we would have liked because of the weather.
"So not having any experience of the longer version of the game and playing against Kenya, who play it regularly, I believe it was a very big win."
The UAE's next match of the Intercontinental Cup will be at home against Afghanistan in the first week of October, and Mazhar Khan is hoping they will be able to carry the momentum of this win into the game.
"I think it is a very good beginning," he said. "Since we have to play the top teams in the future too, we should maintain this momentum, continue with the good work.
I think this win will take us forward a long way. Beating a team that enjoys one-day international is a fantastic achievement.
"But we have got one more tough one coming up in the first week of October. Afghanistan have always been a good side and we will try our best to give them a good game.
"We have done well against a very good side and we will try to do the same against Afghanistan as well."