ABU DHABI // The UAE had the perfect morale boost ahead of their trip Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, after claiming a first victory over Ireland in 15 years.
The national team had not beaten the Irish in any format since 2001, when they won a fixture at the World Cup qualifying tournament in Canada.
Ahead of their flight to Dhaka, where the UAE play in a four-team qualifier for the right to face the likes of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the main event, the success was a much-needed pick-me-up after recent poor form.
Amjad Javed, in his first series as captain of the UAE, oversaw the uplifting five-run win at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Having not previously known what victory felt like against this opposition in his 13 years in the national team, the captain said it felt sweet.
“For the first six overs, they went after us, then we came back,” Amjad said.
“It shows we have a good depth in bowling, fielding, and everyone is supporting each other. Inshallah, we will qualify for the Asia Cup main event.
“We have eight newcomers and it is a good boost for them. I think they will be doing well in the Asia Cup because the wickets there are similar to our wickets here, so they will enjoy it.”
The UAE start their Asia Cup qualifying campaign on Friday when they face their regular rivals Afghanistan in Fatullah.
Although the Afghans are the highest ranked non-Test nation in the Twenty20 international standings, Amjad says the national team are optimistic about their chances. “They will be under pressure, not us,” the all-rounder said. “We beat Ireland, who are going to the World Twenty20, and are the best associate team.”
Amjad himself hit two sixes to give the UAE innings some late impetus, but the target of 134 had seemed well within Ireland’s capabilities when they reached 61 for no loss in six overs.
Will Porterfield, Ireland’s opener and captain, made 72, but the home team fought back pluckily, inspired by two wickets from Mohammed Naveed.
Ahmed Raza, who captains the UAE in the four-day and 50-over formats, was the star of their effort in the field.
Starting his spell in the 12th over, he took two for 19, held a fine catch on the boundary and affected a crucial run out.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever lost a game to the UAE, and we know their side pretty well,” said Gary Wilson, the Ireland batsman, whose side play at the World Twenty20 next month. “I can only say it is disappointing in terms of the performance we have put in today. We have to move on.
“We are playing in the World Cup now, and we are not going to dwell on it.
“I’d be fairly confident that when we get to India we will be well drilled, have done our research, and be ready to go come the first match.”
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