Muhammad Waseem’s struggles personify a team at odds with ODI cricket

UAE’s bid to notch a win at Cricket World Cup League 2 in Scotland meets a damp end

USA bowler Ian Holland celebrates the wicket of UAE's Muhammad Waseem. Peter Della Penna / Cricket Scotland
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There is more than one reason why the start of Asia Cup qualifying cannot come soon enough for the UAE national team.

The basic logistics of travel from Aberdeen to Muscat mean the players are facing a hectic couple of days.

They will leave Scotland on Wednesday, briefly dump their jumpers and cold-weather gear back in Dubai and Sharjah, then head on to Oman the morning after their return home.

UAE will play T20 internationals against Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong next week, for the right to face India and Pakistan on home soil at the Asia Cup.

They surely cannot wait to get to Muscat, a place that holds happy memories, and a return to a format in which they are far more confident.

Their trip to Scotland for the series of Cricket World Cup League 2 one-day internationals has been forgettable, at best.

It was ever thus: UAE have played eight limited-overs matches in Scotland across the formats down the years, and have lost every one.

Their chance to break that duck was scotched on Tuesday when they were confronted by weather that was, indeed, better suited to ducks.

UAE’s final fixture against United States was called off after incessant drizzle throughout the day had rendered the ground at Mannofield unplayable.

UAE v Scotland - in pictures

A share of the points at least meant USA had no chance of leapfrogging UAE into the top three in the table. The seven-team competition carries with it three places at the World Cup Qualifier next year.

UAE had hoped to be far better placed at this stage than having to squabble with the likes of USA and Namibia over the last available berth for that event.

Ahmed Raza, the captain, spoke ahead of the trip to international cricket’s most northerly venue of the fact they were still hoping to topple Scotland and Oman at the top of the table.

And yet the cricket the national team have played remains far too inconsistent for that to be a realistic possibility.

Unlike the 20-over format, in which they have been a sound unit for some time now, the national team have yet to crack ODI cricket.

The facts bear it out. Of their past 10 T20Is, UAE have won eight, losing only a dead rubber against Oman and a game against Bahrain in which they still did enough to safeguard progression in T20 World Cup qualifying.

The contrast with the 50-over version is notable. In two CWCL2 tri-series against the same opposition this summer, in Texas and Aberdeen, they have won just two and lost seven matches.

Previous to that, they had given Papua New Guinea their sole win in the competition to date.

Cricketers in the UAE play little 50-over cricket relative to the T20 format. If anyone personifies the difficulties of formulating a plan to cope with the extra time on offer, it is Muhammad Waseem.

Waseem is a short-form maestro. He has won the Abu Dhabi T10 twice, been part of a Pakistan Super League title-winning franchise, and his feats in T20 international cricket have been extraordinary.

In 12 matches so far, the opener has hit two centuries – each against a full member nation – three half-centuries, has an average of 46, and a strike rate of 153.33.

His 50-over stats bear no relation to such excellence whatsoever. He has just one 50 in 18 ODIs, on a featherbed in Sharjah where two of his colleagues scored tons, and an average of 17.59.

It is only fair to point out this remains a player of prodigious talent, who is still less than a year into his international cricket career. He has plenty of time to make good, and should be given it, too.

In the meantime, it will be a return to Muscat – the site of his finest moment yet in a UAE shirt - and return to the format in which he sparkles.

Updated: August 16, 2022, 3:40 PM
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