Basil Hameed picked up his third player of the match award in the space of seven games as he helped the UAE up to second place in the Cricket World Cup League 2 table.
The 29-year-old all-rounder took 4-19 from 10 overs of off-spin as the national team beat Papua New Guinea by seven wickets at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The two points collected for the win meant they leapfrogged Scotland into second place in the seven-team competition. The top three teams in the event will advance to the final qualifier for the 2023 World Cup in India.
Hameed’s excellence has been a consistent feature of the UAE’s run of fine form of late. The fact it is his bowling that has caught the eye so regularly is, though, a surprise.
The Kerala-born player only had the chance to bowl twice in the first six one-day internationals he played. Across his first eight matches in the format, he managed just one wicket.
In the seven matches since, he has taken 14 wickets – including a career best five for 17 against Oman last month. And a week ago he shared a player of the match award with Kashif Daud for his batting – which was always regarded as his primary skill - against Namibia.
“I’m happy to contribute in whatever manner I can,” Hameed said. “Thanks to my coach [Robin Singh] and captain [Ahmed Raza] for having faith in me to take the ball under pressure.
“Over that period I have improved my bowling, and it is all about the combination we play as well. I always had the opportunity to bowl in the nets, and Ahmed saw that.
“On this kind of track, the idea is to mix up your pace. If you don’t, it is a very true wicket. The idea was to do that, and bowl good spells in clusters, and it was working out for me.”
Raza, who said Hameed “is really turning into a match winner for us”, professed himself satisfied by the success, even if it had been less spectacular than the record-breaking effort against Namibia on Saturday.
“It is two more points, which takes us to second in the table and that is really pleasing,” Raza said.
“It is about trying to improve in the areas where we think we can improve. [PNG] bowled really well and they are a brilliant fielding side. We recognised that, and you have to respect that.”
Hameed was the pick of the attack as the home side had limited PNG to 176-8 from their 50 overs. Asif Khan top scored with 81 not out as the hosts chased victory with three wickets down and 33 deliveries remaining.
“I thought we were 40 to 50 runs short on that wicket, but they bowled really well,” Assad Vala, the PNG captain, said.
PNG return to action immediately when they face Nepal in the second match of the tri-series, at Sharjah on Wednesday.
UAE have back-to-back games, against Nepal on Friday and PNG on Saturday, both at the Dubai International Stadium.