UAE head towards T20 World Cup exit despite Karthik Meiyappan hat-trick against Sri Lanka

Leg-spinner makes history but national team are outclassed by Asia Cup champions

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Karthik Meiyappan left the T20 World Cup with a glorious forget-me-not, but UAE are facing elimination from the competition after wilting against the pace of Dushmantha Chameera in Geelong.

The 22-year-old leg-spinner became the first UAE male cricketer to take a hat-trick in T20 internationals as he did everything he could to peg back Sri Lanka at Kardinia Park.

In the process, he became just the fifth player to achieve the feat in T20 World Cup history, joining a list including Brett Lee, Curtis Campher, Wanindu Hasaranga and Kagiso Rabada.

His victims were Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka. His salvo was much needed, as UAE attempted to save their place in the tournment.

The national team needed to beat Sri Lanka if they were to have any chance of advancing to the main stage of the competition.

That looked to be stretching far beyond their reach after the Asia Cup champions made a blistering start at Kardinia Park.

Abetted by some wayward bowling by the national team, Sri Lanka were 42 for no loss in the fifth over, then 92-1 the 12th.

At that point, Rajapaksa – their Asia Cup final hero – arrived at the crease to a huge roar from the Sri Lankan fans.

It was then that Meiyappan brought his presence to bear. Rajapaksa chipped up a catch to Kashif Daud when on just five.

From the next delivery, Asalanka edged behind to Vriitya Aravind, who was a teammate of Meiyappan’s at the Under 19 version of the World Cup a little over two years ago.

When Meiyappan completed the set with his next ball, as he worked the ball through the defences of Shanaka, Sri Lanka’s captain, he was mobbed by his teammates.

In the bundle were two more of his colleagues from the U19s class of 2020. Aryan Lakra was making his T20 World Cup debut, while Alishan Sharafu, who has yet to play in this competition, raced onto the field from his position warming the bench.

After Meiyappan’s stunning intervention, UAE finished the innings brilliantly. Zahoor Khan capped it off with a masterclass in how to bowl the last over of a T20 game.

Halfway through the game, they were in it. They required 153 to win it. Do so, and Sri Lanka would go crashing out, while the UAE’s final match – against Namibia on Thursday – would be a winner-takes-all playoff.

And yet, halfway through their own reply, their prospects were wrecked. As coach Robin Singh traipsed disconsolately to the middle for the mid-innings drinks break, the scoreboard read 36-6.

The beleaguered batters have endured a miserable tour to Australia, and they looked entirely out of sorts against the pace of Chameera.

The fact the score read 11 for no loss after the first over was misleading enough. Two of those scoring shots had been edges through slip.

Thereafter, it was one long malaise. Chameera (3-15) lit up the Zing stumps of Muhammad Waseem and Aryan Lakra.

CP Rizwan’s woeful spell endured. He made a single – as he has on every trip to the wicket when playing against international sides so far on tour – before chipping a catch up to mid-off of Chameera.

With their top order shot out, the remainder of the effort was entirely supine.

Another of Sri Lanka’s IPL stars, Wanindu Hasaranga, made easy work of the UAE middle- and late-order.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore leg-spinner took 3-8 from four mesmerising overs.

In the death throes, Junaid Siddique at least landed one despairing blow on Chameera. The tailender swished at a length ball and launched the UAE's destroyer-in-chief right over the Reg Hickie Stand, which runs square on to the wicket.

It was a last flail against the inevitable, though. The UAE were bowled out for a paltry 73, meaning they lost by 79 runs.

It was their second defeat in two days, and yet they are still not quite fully out of the competition. If Netherlands beat Sri Lanka in Thursday's first match, they will go straight through with six points.

If UAE then beat Namibia in the evening game, three teams will be tied on two points. UAE's vastly inferior run-rate realistically means any chance of advancing have already dissolved, though.

Updated: October 18, 2022, 11:58 AM
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