x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE hope to stall Scotland in ICC Intercontinental Cup

Home side work their way back into the game, but few spectators were there to watch.

Saqib Ali , right, the UAE Batsman beats the throw and scores his half century against Scotland.
Saqib Ali , right, the UAE Batsman beats the throw and scores his half century against Scotland.

SHARJAH // Given that Pakistan were getting ready to face England in an eminently more appealing international match just down the Emirates Road in Dubai, it was fair to argue there had been somewhat of a scheduling clash.

But this still seemed a little extreme. Eight days earlier, the stands at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium had hummed to the sound of 15,000 Afghans watching their side play a one-day international against their neighbours from Pakistan.

The contrast could not have been greater. Yesterday there was precisely nobody in those same stands to watch the opening session of day three of the Intercontinental Cup tie between the UAE and Scotland. Not one person.

Admittedly, it was not a great day for watching. First there was the inclement weather. Whenever the ball ran towards the boundary -not a frequent occurrence, by the way - it was followed by a train of sand flicking up from the grass.

Then there was the wicket. On days like this the fast lane of the Sheikh Zayed Road would be a more benevolent proposition for bowlers than the Sharjah featherbed.

And neither did the state of play lend itself to rip-roaring cricket. The UAE, with a 205-run deficit on first innings to clear, were compelled to be watchful with the bat.

They had the ideal man for the job. Arshad Ali, their opener, once scored a double-hundred in a 50-over match for the UAE in a tournament in Malaysia. However, he still likes nothing more than a defiant forward defensive.

In the morning session, he seemed as though he was stuck to the crease tighter than a barnacle sponsored by Loctite Super Glue.

By the time he was eventually dislodged for a 237-ball 71, the home side were in credit, with the score on 214 for four.

"We had to play very patient cricket to get back into the game," Arshad said. "I have been playing so much 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, it is difficult to change style and mindset.

"We get no practise for four-day cricket in this country, so you have to rely on your experience."

The attendance swelled at the lunch interval, when three Scottish supporters turned up to watch. They had their pick of the seats, so went for the comfy ones next to the dressing rooms.

Saqib Ali, who finished with 77, promptly sent the first ball after the break to the fence off Majid Haq. It was an unsightly blemish for the off-spinner, who had the extraordinarily thrifty figures of one for 10 from 16 overs until that point.

By stumps, the UAE had cobbled together a lead of 81, with just three wickets remaining - albeit with some firepower left in the form of Amjad Javed, Fayyaz Ahmed and Mohammed Tauqir.

As such, they have much to do if they are to send Kabir Khan, the coach who officially starts his new job with Afghanistan tomorrow, away with a happy leaving present.

"We can save the game, but our last batsmen need to play very well," Arshad said

 

pradley@thenational.ae

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