Records tumble as UAE defeat Bahrain in Asia Cup qualifying in Muscat

National team post their highest T20I score with Alishan Sharafu and Asif Khan maintaining strong form

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The UAE smashed a national record score in T20 international cricket as they exacted revenge on Bahrain at the ACC Premier Cup in Muscat on Saturday.

The national team broke the 200-run barrier in the format for the first time in a run-spree at the Oman Cricket Academy in Al Amerat.

They eventually finished on 236-6 after brutal half-centuries from Alishan Sharafu, Muhammad Waseem and Asif Khan.

They clearly enjoy playing at this venue. Six of the UAE’s highest ever innings totals in this format have come at the scenic ground in the Wadi Al Mayr venue.

They closed out a second successive win at the start of the 10-team tournament, the winners of which will qualify for the Asia Cup next year.

The national team were well aware of their opposition’s threat. When they faced it during T20 World Cup qualifying at the same venue three years ago, Bahrain claimed a shock win over their Gulf neighbours.

It appeared at one point in the chase that the same might be possible. Bahrain were 131-2 after 11 overs of their reply, before they were eventually limited to 199-8.

For the second day in a row, Sharafu was the batting star, and again he shared in a batting partnership record.

On Friday, he and Asif Khan set a new highest stand for any wicket for the UAE in the format when they put on 153 for the fourth wicket in the win over Kuwait.

A day later, he and Waseem set a new best for the first wicket as they blitzed 142 before they were parted.

Sharafu top scored with 78 from 41 balls, Waseem made 65 from 40, and Asif blazed 66 from 27 balls. Between them, the three players hit 16 sixes.

Asif has marked his return to the side in remarkable fashion. In the space of two days, he has scored 140 runs from 75 balls, having been curiously absent from the UAE’s two previous T20I series.

“The coach [Lalchand Rajput] gave me a lot of confidence as he told me to bat deep and trust in my power hitting,” Asif said.

“That is the reason for me going at No 4, 5 or 6, but, Alhamdulillah, all the guys have been batting very well in the team.

“In domestic cricket I open, and No 5 is a difficult position as you have senior players above you. But I try to take responsibility and do my best.”

Asif paid tribute to Sharafu, the 21-year-old opener who is the only player in the competition to have scored more runs than Asif so far.

“Alishan has been batting brilliantly and I told him he has to back himself, especially to take on the small boundaries,” Asif said.

“If you can get away three or four sixes, after that it is easy for us. Thanks to that we have been successful.”

In spite of the fact there were 435 runs scored in the game, the player of the match was a bowler. Aayan Khan earned the award after putting the breaks on the Bahrain counter attack.

The 18-year-old left-arm spinner took 3-26 from his four overs.

“It was a high-scoring game so it was a case of me keeping it easy,” Aayan said.

“[Captain Waseem] told me to keep it [simple] because on these wickets the ball stays low and it did for me. It all went to plan.”

Waseem was satisfied with his side’s performance despite the fact Bahrain did briefly threaten in their chase.

“We were expecting that because it was a high-scoring game and everyone was coming hard at the bowling,” Waseem said.

“I was telling my boys we just had to keep it simple. And with the batting, I am very happy with how Asif Khan and Alishan have been batting and I enjoyed batting with them.”

Updated: April 13, 2024, 12:57 PM