Bold calls pay off to revive UAE’s chances of facing India and Pakistan in Asia Cup

National team thrive against Singapore despite absence of most experienced trio

Muhammad Waseem plays a shot during UAE's victory over Singapore at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Muscat, Oman, on August 23, 2022. Photo: ACC
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When UAE last made a trip to Muscat for a cricket tour, back in February, it ended joyously.

Ahmed Raza took five wickets in the course of captaining the national team to qualification for a T20 World Cup for just the second time.

Zahoor Khan pocketed the final wicket in the same game, the all-important semi-final win over Nepal, to spark the celebrations.

In the final that followed, which was little more than a toast to their ongoing excellence, Rohan Mustafa hit the winning runs as they walloped Ireland for a fifth time in a row.

How times change. Six months later, they are back in Oman’s capital, with qualification for a major tournament on the line, and all three of their most experienced players were on the outside looking in.

Having suffered a shock defeat to Kuwait a day earlier, UAE’s game against Singapore on Monday was must-win.

UAE bounced back from Sunday's defeat to Kuwait to reignite their Asia Cup prospects. Photo: ACC

Absent from their line up were Raza, Mustafa and Zahoor – as well as Kashif Daud, who has also enjoyed recent triumphs in Muscat.

In their place were players who were eager to impress, with the prospect of fixtures against India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup ahead – and then places on the plane to Australia for the World Cup to follow.

Restored to the line ups after months of ferrying drinks for his senior colleagues, Karthik Meiyappan shone.

The 21-year-old leg-spinner took three for 13 to help bring about a 47-run win.

Sultan Ahmed, who has been out of the side since October last year, was straight back into the old routine. His economy rate of 4.28 in his 3.3 over spell was only a little below his career standard.

The heftiness of the win over Singapore gave UAE a significant run-rate boost.

If Hong Kong beat Kuwait on Tuesday evening, then UAE know their fate will be in their own hands. They face Hong Kong in the final match of the qualifier on Tuesday.

They will know they have to win that game, and by the time the second innings starts, by how much they have to win by, too.

“I am happy for the boys and the team, as this was a much-needed win,” CP Rizwan, the new UAE captain, said.

“On paper we are one of the stronger teams and we needed to show that on the field as well. That is what we did today.

“The boys were hungry and keen to perform. When they got the opportunity, they grabbed it with both hands.”

Meiyappan said he was happy to help get the side back on track.

“It is good to be on the winning side and bounce back after yesterday,” Meiyappan said.

“This means we are still in with a chance to go through to the Asia Cup, which is what is most important for us. It was good to contribute to the team’s win.”

Updated: August 23, 2022, 4:16 AM