UAE’S HOPES FLOAT AT T20 WORLD CUP QUAL­I­FIER WITH NIGE­RIA WIN

▶ One of most miserly spells in his­tory by Sul­tan and Farid’s 55 runs set up five-wicket vic­tory

The National - News - - SPORT - PAUL RADLEY

Sul­tan Ahmed said the UAE re­main fo­cused on qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the T20 World Cup, de­spite the con­tro­ver­sies that have be­set the side this month.

The left-arm spin­ner played a key role in main­tain­ing the na­tional team’s chances of win­ning one of the six qual­i­fy­ing places for the tour­na­ment in Aus­tralia next year, as they beat Nige­ria by five wick­ets in Abu Dhabi.

After open­ing the bowl­ing, Sul­tan con­ceded just six runs in four overs, in­clud­ing bowl­ing two maid­ens, which are among the most eco­nom­i­cal fig­ures in the his­tory of T20 in­ter­na­tion­als.

His ef­forts un­der­pinned a fine start to the match by the trou­bled na­tional team. In the eighth over, Nige­ria were 22-3.

Although they ral­lied to reach 111-3 from their 20 overs, UAE made quick work of the chase.

Zawar Farid, play­ing his first game of the tour­na­ment, made 55 as the na­tional team chased their tar­get with over seven overs, and five wick­ets, in hand.

It was the respite the team re­quired after the tur­moil of the past few days.

They are still un­sure of whether they can call up re­place­ments, hav­ing lost Ash­faq Ahmed to a sus­pen­sion re­lated to an on­go­ing ICC in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion, and Ghu­lam Shab­ber, who left the coun­try with no ex­pla­na­tion this week.

Three play­ers – Mo­hammed Naveed, Qadeer Ahmed and Shaiman An­war – had al­ready been banned be­fore the tour­na­ment started, due to the cor­rup­tion probe.

“I am happy with the squad which is here, and we are on track to reach our goal,” Sul­tan said. “The fo­cus re­mains the same, which is to qual­ify for the

World Cup. I’m very clear about my role that is given to me by my coach and cap­tain.

“I have been bowl­ing with the new ball for a num­ber of years now, I know my role well and

I just look to bowl dot balls. I don’t chase wick­ets, and even­tu­ally it gets suc­cess.”

Fel­low left-arm spin­ner Ahmed Raza ex­celled again, as he took 1-15 from his four overs, which in­cluded a maiden, too. Raza said hav­ing an­other left-arm spin­ner to bowl along­side helps his game.

“As a cap­tain, I would be happy if [Sul­tan] goes for noth­ing,” Raza said. “There is al­ways that com­pet­i­tive­ness be­tween each other, but I think that helps the team. It is our strength.

“Sul­tan and I are both lef­t­arm spin­ners, but very dif­fer­ent to each other, and our roles are dif­fer­ent as well.

“He bowls with the new ball more of­ten than not, and I try to con­trol the mid­dle overs. He has been do­ing his job amaz­ingly well.”

UAE, third in the ta­ble, have one pool match left, against Canada on Sun­day evening at the Zayed Cricket Sta­dium.

Canada beat Ire­land for their first win over a full-mem­ber na­tion since 2003 – against Bangladesh at the World Cup.

UAE have to fin­ish in the top four in the seven-team group to ad­vance to the next phase.

The top two sides in each pool will qual­ify di­rectly to the main event in Aus­tralia, while the next six will vie for the re­main­ing four berths, in Dubai next week. “We don’t need to go into what we have had to en­dure over the past cou­ple of weeks, but mas­sive credit to the guys,” Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said.

“They have been the ones keep­ing them­selves to­gether. We have one fo­cus, and that is to qual­ify for the T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia next year.

“We have had a cou­ple of hic­cups and speed-bumps along the way, but we are still in there fight­ing, along with the other teams.

“There will be a few twists and turns over the next few days as well, I’m sure.”

A quick­fire knock from Zawar Farid al­lowed UAE to boost their net run-rate

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