The UAE made a winning start at the country’s newest international cricket venue thanks to a vintage performance by their most seasoned campaigner.
Chamani Seneviratna was named player of the match after taking four wickets to set up victory over Hong Kong in the first T20 international at the Malek Cricket Ground in Ajman.
When she first played international cricket, for her native Sri Lanka back in 1997, only two of her current teammates with UAE were even born.
Back then, there was only one turf cricket ground of note – Sharjah Cricket Stadium - in the country she now represents with distinction in cricket.
Now there are more than 50. The Malek Cricket Ground, a dapper new oval adjacent to four other domestic grounds in the Al Alia area of Ajman, became the seventh venue to stage senior international cricket in the UAE.
It is already a lucky one for the home team, on the basis of their fine win in the opening match of the four-game T20I series against Hong Kong.
Samaira Dharnidharka gave the hosts the perfect start, when she picked up two wickets in successive deliveries in the second over of the game.
The schoolgirl fast-bowler, who only turned 15 in February, included among her victims Natasha Miles, who is deemed the prized wicket of the Hong Kong line up, for a first-ball duck.
Despite the double strike, the tourists hit back well as a 98-run alliance between captain Kary Chan and Mariko Hill took them to 104 for two in the 16th over.
From that point on, though, Seneviratna brought her experience to bear. The former Sri Lanka Test all-rounder took four wickets as Hong Kong stuttered to 118 for six from their 20 overs.
It never threatened to be enough, as UAE’s in-form top order powered their side to the target with seven wickets and 27 balls left over.
Kavisha Kumari underpinned the chase, reaching 50 as she hit the winning runs.
It was the opener’s fourth half-century in her past five trips to the crease for the national team – and the side’s 11th win in succession.