Ahmed Raza says UAE had 'narrow escape' in beating Nepal in World League 2

Victory had appeared a long way off after the national team had been bowled out for a mere 168 in their innings

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Ahmed Raza said UAE had a “narrow escape” after they beat Nepal by 48 runs in the Cricket World Cup League 2 at Dubai International Stadium.

Victory had appeared a long way off after the national team had been bowled out for a mere 168 in their innings.

But an inspired bowling display led by Junaid Siddique and Basil Hameed, plus some outstanding fielding, brought about an unlikely turnaround.

“We had a narrow escape,” Raza, the UAE captain, said.“It is not easy to defend such a total against a very good Nepalese team. I am proud of the effort we made in the field and with the ball.”

It was UAE’s sixth fixture in the competition in less than two weeks. During that space of time the national team have set a record for their highest ever one-day international score, when they blazed 348 for three in a win over Namibia.

All too often for the rest of the time, though, their batters have misfired. Other than 40s apiece by CP Rizwan and Rohan Mustafa, who shared 77 for the fifth wicket between them, the batting was listless again against Nepal.

“We were 50, 60, or even 70 light – it was not a 160 or 170-run wicket for sure,” Raza said.

“I am going to sound like a broken record now, but the batsmen really do need to step up now.

"You are not going to get easy conditions or a flat wicket every time. It is about adaptability and we really need to start doing that.”

UAE's Junaid Siddique celebrates the wicket of Nepal's Aasif Sheikh. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Siddique breathed life into the home team’s challenge as he made a fine start with the new ball. The fast bowler took three for 18 in all, including the final wicket to fall.

Hameed took four wickets for the second time in the space of four days, after doing the same in the previous fixture against Papua New Guinea, who UAE face again on Saturday.

While Raza is happy for the swift turnaround in fixtures, his opposite number, Sandeep Lamichhane, said Nepal have to go away and rethink their own batting issues.

“It is quite unbelievable,” Lamichhane, Nepal’s captain, said.

“I thought chasing 169, which is a low score, we could do it in around 35 overs and be back at the hotel quite happily.

“It was a poor display of batting today and we have to take responsibility. It is high time to think about our batting.

"It has not been working for a while now. We will try to come back strong.”

When defeat was confirmed, the hundred or so Nepal supporters at the stadium stayed on to show their appreciation for the winning team.

It was gratefully received by the UAE players, not least Mustafa, who was named the player of the match.

“They respect me a lot, and they support cricket,” said Mustafa, who has been a popular overseas professional in league cricket in Nepal in the past.

“When I go to Nepal, they come over there and support me. They keep my motivation high. I have done well against Nepal, too, and yet I still get messages from them wishing me well.”

Updated: March 18, 2022, 1:16 PM