x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE take heart from loss to India in ACC Emerging Teams Cup

Beaten in their semi-final despite five wickets for the impressive Nasir Aziz.

The UAE's pursuit of qualification for two global limited-overs tournaments this winter will be galvanised by the way the national team fared at the Emerging Teams Cup, even though their campaign ended at the semi-final stage of the competition yesterday.
That is the view of Ahmed Raza, the interim captain, who has enjoyed a highly successful stint in charge, in the absence of the regular leader, Khurram Khan, in Singapore.
Raza's side eventually succumbed to a 46-run defeat to an Indian development team that included players like Unmukt Chand, a rising star of cricket on the subcontinent, in their last-four encounter.
The fact the UAE had reached that stage was itself a minor triumph.
The national team were the only side from outside of the Test elite to advance in a new tournament which also involved Afghanistan, Nepal and Singapore.
They did so having comprehensively beaten Bangladesh's Under 23 team in the final group match on Thursday.
Raza felt a second upset in consecutive days was within his side's grasp, but was still pleased with hisside's progress.
"It has been a proud moment, but we felt we could reach the final as well," he said. "I'm really pleased the way things went in this event. To be the only Associate country to reach the semis is a great achievement.
"After playing such good cricket here I'm sure we will try our best to qualify for the World Cup in both [50 over and Twenty20] formats."
The UAE had dismissed the Indians for 208 thanks to Nasir Aziz's second five-wicket haul in two days against a side from a Test-playing nation.
The diminutive off-spinner is the leading wicket-taker in the competition, with 17 from four matches, and is thriving as the leader of the UAE's powerful battery of slow-bowlers.
He said the UAE coach, Aaqib Javed, told him he "should look to be a match winner" and added: "I have tried to live up to my coach's expectations.
"I'm a little disappointed that my five wickets went in vain today but we played good cricket to reach the semi-finals," he said.
The chase faltered when Akshar Patel, a left-arm spinner who is on the books of the Mumbai Indians IPL franchise, dislodged the three pillars of the UAE batting line-up - Shaiman Anwar, Swapnil Patil and Saqib Ali - in quick succession.
"We were cruising when we were 97 for one but there was a mini-collapse and we never found our way back after that," Raza said. "It was India we were playing against, a very strong opposition, but we were in with a chance of causing an upset.
"When the left-arm spinner got Swapnil, Shaiman and Saqib in the space of two overs it is very hard for the team to get back."
pradley@thenational.ae
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