x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE six wickets from a famous Nairobi win

Hosts lose four wickets for 76 and will need to bat out three sessions on Sunday to save the game and deny UAE the 14 points for an outright victory.

UAE’s Saqib Ali acknowledges his teammates after reaching his century against Kenya at Nairobi.
UAE’s Saqib Ali acknowledges his teammates after reaching his century against Kenya at Nairobi.

Having notched their first win in 10 years over Kenya earlier on the tour, the UAE are six wickets away from a stunning Intercontinental Cup win over the hosts in Nairobi.

Dismissed for 213 in the first innings and having conceded a first innings lead, the visitors made a remarkable turnaround in their second innings, declaring on a mammoth 439 for eight at tea on day three to set Kenya 434 for a win. Amjad Javed (100), Saqib Ali (153) and captain Khurram Khan (113) all scored centuries on the day.

By close of stumps on Saturday, the hosts had lost four wickets for 76 and now face the challenge of batting out three sessions today to save the game and deny UAE the 14 points for an outright win.

"It was a really good day for us - three 100s, one of which was a 150," said Mohammed Lokhandwala, the team manager. "After the first innings, we had a lot of catching up to do and we have done that. I was looking around 350, but we have done even better than that.

"We have also taken four wickets, which is a fantastic start for us. Now we just have to work on another six wickets tomorrow. We have got most of their main batsmen out; only their captain Collins Obuya remains.

"We will try to finish it off as early as we can. Unfortunately we missed out on the six points for the first innings lead, but at least we will get 14 points [for outright win]."

The change in UAE's fortunes came when Kabir Khan, the coach, decided to promote Javed after they had lost three wickets for 31 in the second innings. The lanky medium pacer gave Saqib company for the next 47.5 overs, contributing 190 runs to the UAE score.

Khurram and Saqib then added 141 for the fifth wicket, taking the score to 362. The UAE captain and his deputy Mohammed Tauqir (38 not out) then added to the hosts' woes with a 67-run partnership for the eighth wicket.

"The team needed this batting performance from us," said Saqib. "We had to make up for the first innings, when we got out cheaply. So we were determined to stay at the crease; if you stay at the crease long enough and allow yourself to get in, the runs start flowing automatically.

"That was our main focus when Javed joined me at the crease [on day two]. We just decided to make sure we did not lose any further wickets. Thankfully, we were able to carry out our plans successfully.

"We wanted to get as many runs on the board as possible so that our bowlers could have a go at them, attack them without having to worry about defending."

Saqib topped the tournament run-scoring charts in UAE's last appearance in the Intercontinental Cup, in 2007-08, and is looking forward to another successful run after his century in the opening match of their campaign.

"I have made a good start," said Saqib, who scored 690 runs from seven matches last time. "God willing, I hope to keep this form going and help the team get good results."

arizvi@thenational.ae