x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE's cricket team enjoying their improved fortunes in Canada

Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, wants more of the same from his side in second World Cricket League match in Toronto today.

Nasir Aziz celebrates taking a wicket for the UAE during their win over Canada.
Nasir Aziz celebrates taking a wicket for the UAE during their win over Canada.

The UAE are "pumped up" to capitalise on the momentum they have built up on their tour of Canada with another victory in the World Cricket League Championship (WCL) today.

After a precarious start in the drawn four-day Intercontinental Cup, the UAE were in fine form late Tuesday while winning the first of the two 50-over-a-side World Cricket League matches by 46 runs.

"It has been a fantastic turnaround after we were bowled out for 116 in the first inning of the four-day match, " said Khurram Khan, the captain who rescued them with a first-class career best 121 not out in the second inning as he batted for more than five hours.

"Everyone has chipped in with their contributions when it matters. They are now really looking forward to winning the next game which would keep our slender hopes of an automatic qualification for the 2015 World Cup alive, if not to finish in the top four" of the eight-team competition.

Ireland have already secured the first of the two automatic qualifying berths in the World Cup.

Scotland, the Netherlands and Afghanistan, along with the UAE, are battling for the second spot.

The UAE took their WCL tally to 12 points with three games left, including tonight's match against Canada, at King City, Ontario, north of Toronto.

Scotland and the Netherlands are on 15 points, and they have two games each while Afghanistan are on 11 but are left with four matches.

"It is still a complex situation as we have to depend on the results of the other games and that's why we were not looking beyond the first of the two matches against Canada," Khurram said.

"We have got the game out of the way and now we want to win the next game.

"The boys are all pumped up for the next game and hopefully will win this game."

Apart from the top two teams in the WCL, the remaining six sides will have a second qualification opportunity when they play for the final two spots in next year's ICC World Cup qualifier in New Zealand.

Shaiman Anwar stroked a breezy 102 not out for the UAE to post 269 for four, while the medium pacer Mohammed Naveed and the spinner Nasir Aziz grabbed four wickets each to bundle out Canada for 223.

Anwar hit nine fours and three sixes, sharing two valuable partnerships, 68 for the fourth wicket with Swapnil Patil (43) and an unfinished 147 for the fifth wicket with Rohan Mustafa (68 not out).

Put into bat first, the UAE were in a bit of a spot at 54 for three in 12 overs when Anwar walked in to the crease.

"My first task was to get a partnership going with Swapnil, which we managed to do, and then go for maximum runs in the last 10 overs. It clicked well for me at the end," Anwar said.

"Rohan was batting, scoring freely at the other end and we managed to put up a challenging total on the board."

It was Anwar's second List A century for the UAE, after his 123 against Papua New Guinea in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Dubai in April 2011.

"This is one of my best knocks because this century was scored under pressure, firstly because I didn't fare well in the first game and then we were not in a good position when I walked in," he said.

"I came in to this game having failed with the bat in both innings of the tour opener [0 and 4]. Hopefully, I can take this momentum forward and win the next game for us."

Mustafa, who played an anchor role (25 not out facing 120 deliveries in more than two-and-a-half hours) to salvage the draw in the four-day game with his captain, smashed five fours and two sixes in his 61-ball knock to show that he can also be attacking when given the opportunity.

He downplayed his role though.

"It was a good batting strip so we need to give the bowlers full credit, particularly Naveed and Nasir," he said.

Naveed ran through the top order with an excellent opening spell to have Canada struggling at 63 for three before Aziz struck with his List A career-best four for 32 from his 10 overs.


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