Muhammad Waseem struck the second century of his extraordinary introduction to international cricket as UAE claimed the T20 World Cup Qualifier title.
The national team had already accomplished the main goal of their tour to Oman two days earlier. Winning their semi-final against Nepal secured their trip to Australia for October.
They were intent on leaving Muscat with the winners’ trophy, too, and Waseem - playing just his 12th T20 international - made sure they did, in a dominant run-chase against Ireland.
The opener hit 112 as UAE chased 160 for the loss of just three wickets to give them the title – and a fifth win in a row against the Irish.
“Everyone has been backing me whether I have been scoring or not scoring, the coach, the captain, and the players,” said Waseem, who scored a vital half-century in the win against Nepal, too.
“We have kept believing in ourselves. I have been trying to do my best. Inshallah, I can do more of this, and score more hundreds and 50s.
“It was a big game, a high-pressure game and I had belief in myself. I just tried to play my natural game.
“It was not easy. After six overs we had just 20 runs and two wickets gone, but [batting partner Rohan Mustafa and I] talked to each other and said to go till the end.”
Waseem’s innings was reminiscent of the century he scored against the same opposition in Dubai last October, when he scored 107 not out from a total of 137 in a series-clinching run-chase.
Ahmed Raza, the UAE captain, said the country has found a star in the form of the 28-year-old opening batsman.
“When it comes to chasing, you need a really good head on your shoulders to calculate the innings,” Raza said.
“The maturity he has shown, when he is just six months into international cricket. He has played [Abu Dhabi] T10, but international cricket is a totally different ball game.
“Getting his second international hundred against a Test-playing nation, both in a chase, he has shown us that he belongs at this level and he has a great future ahead of him.”
Victory means UAE will now be entered into a first-round group with Sri Lanka, Namibia, and the second-placed team in the second global Qualifier, to be played in Zimbabwe later this year.
“I’m someone who doesn’t like to chat about the travel plan or what lies ahead of us,” Raza said of his message to his team before the final.
“Within a couple of days, we will be back playing the World Cup League games. It was really important not to talk about that, not to talk about travel plans, but about going into today’s game and stamping our authority on the tournament.
“We wanted to make a point that we are the best team in the tournament. We had beaten Ireland on the previous four occasions, and we didn’t want to lose that record.
“That is a huge record for us. Beating a Test-playing nation five times on the trot is unheard of.”