x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE fall short in a charged derby clash with Oman

Injured Tauqir's valiant efforts go in vain in a match that saw high volatility but a 11-run defeat is taken sportingly in the end.

Oman’s Nadil Yousuf hits out against the UAE in their hotly contested match in Shahjah last night.
Oman’s Nadil Yousuf hits out against the UAE in their hotly contested match in Shahjah last night.

Cricket may not yet be a big draw among the nationals of the Gulf nations, but an intense rivalry seems to be taking shape between the UAE and Oman if their emotion-ridden match last night is any indication.

Meeting for the third time in the Gulf Cup – a tournament open this year exclusively to the nationals of the participating nations – both the sides seemed emotionally charged and the noisy UAE fans certainly played a part in the flaring tempers during the game.

The Oman manager first complained about the music being played by the fans on the Sharjah Cricket Stadium’s loudspeaker system, but that did not stop his players from heckled by fans.

Things took a turn for the worse when Mohammed Rafeeq turned around and made an obscene gesture towards the galleries after taking a catch in the deep.

The UAE players, however, went into the stands to pacify their fans.

In the end, though, after the UAE fell short by 11 runs chasing 173 for a win, the players from both sides shook hands; apologies were tendered and accepted through warm embraces. “I think UAE vs Oman is a derby match,” said Alawi Shukri, the UAE captain.

“Their manager was just complaining from the first ball. So it is definitely a derby match. It’s good for the Gulf. Its like Pakistan-India or England and Australia for the Ashes. UAE vs Oman is becoming like that. So that’s good.”

This was the UAE third straight defeat in the Gulf Cup to Oman – they lost in the league stage and the final last year.

Al Shukri, however, has promised to avenge their defeat should they meet Oman in the final again on Sunday night. “We will get them,” he said. “We will get them this time. I won’t wait for one more year. We are disappointed, but we will wait for the final.”

The UAE seemed cruising towards their target of 173, with 124 on the board in the 15th over and eight wickets in hands.  But they lost Mohammed Tauqir, for a classy 83, and two more wickets for the addition of just one more run.

“I thought we will get to the target, but then Tauqir lost his wicket and I played a very bad shot,” al Shukri said. “Losing three wickets for one run made a difference. Our hitter, Mohammed Altaf, went out first-ball and that hurt our chances.”

Oman, who had an opening partnership of 157 against Kuwait on Thursday, made a disappointing start against the UAE as Marwan Khamis dismissed Rafeeq Mohammed in the second over of the innings with 18 on the board.

Khalid Masood (45), who struck a whirlwind 108 against Kuwait, departed with 58 on the board as Fahad al Hashmi took a brilliant skier running in from long on. Three runs later Niaz Ahmed was run-out, a fourth wicket fell at 72 and Oman were 84 for four midway through their innings.

Nadil Yousuf (42) and Ahmed Mehmood (28 not out) repaired a bit of the damage in a 64-run partnership for the fifth wicket before Sharif Pindook smashed an unbeaten nine-ball 24 to help his side post a challenging 172 for seven on the board.

Tauqir was yet again the most successful bowler for the UAE with three wickets for 30. He then gave the UAE run-chase a blistering start, smacking a 49-ball 83 that included some pleasing drives and lofts, and a few brutish shots, despite being hampered by a suspected thigh muscle tear.

“As a senior member of the team, it is my responsibility to make sure I bat for most of the overs,” Tauqir said. “But it was disappointing I could not stay on.”


Saudi Arabia keep Gulf Cup hopes alive with win over Kuwait

Saudi Arabia kept alive their hopes of reaching the finals of the Gulf Cup cricket tournament for GCC nationals with an emphatic 81-run win over Kuwait.

Strong batting performances from Nadeem al Nadwi (67), Abbas al Nadwi (39) and Faisal Shaikh (36) at the top of the order gave Saudi Arabia an impressive score of 212 for five.

They could have got a few more on the board, but three quick wickets by Tariq Beidas upset their plans.

Nadeem later took two wickets for 31 as Kuwait were restricted to 131 for five, with Mehmood Bastaki scoring 51 (6x4) and Tahir Bastaki retiring on 34.

Saudi Arabia will meet defending champions Oman in their final round-robin league game on Saturday and they will need a big win to reach Sunday's final.