Magnificent Muhammad Waseem century sends UAE to Asia Cup with win over Oman

National team bounce back from adversity to clinch ACC Premier Cup title in Muscat

Powered by automated translation

Muhammad Waseem crushed a trademark century to lead the UAE to Asia Cup qualification.

The captain made 100 in 56 balls as the national team beat Oman by 55 runs in the final of the ACC Premier Cup in Muscat.

It was not the first time Waseem has thrived on the main oval at Oman Cricket Academy when the stakes were high.

Back in 2022, he hit a sublime ton as the national team celebrated qualification for the T20 World Cup in Australia with a win over Ireland.

The circumstances were slightly different this time. That match two years ago had essentially been ceremonial: both the UAE and Ireland were already assured of qualification for the World Cup.

The ACC Premier Cup, though, only carries with it one spot at the Asia Cup next year, where India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan lie in wait. As such, the final against the hosts was winner-takes-all.

Additionally, the present incarnation of the national team bears little resemblance to what it did in 2022. Back then, it was a confident side, sure of its excellence. Lately, though, the side has been frustratingly inconsistent.

After their most recent series against Scotland, which culminated in them making their lowest ever score in a full international match, Waseem pointed out it felt as though the side was overly reliant on him making runs.

The form of Alishan Sharafu and Asif Khan at this tournament in Muscat, though, has rendered that theory a distant memory.

Waseem was emboldened to play his shots in the final by the confidence he had in his opening partner, Sharafu, as well as the fact Asif has been in such prime form in the middle order.

He shared in a stand worth 93 for the first wicket with Sharafu, while Asif bulldozed his way to 38 not out in 16 balls at the end of the innings to ensure UAE posted 204 for four.

While Waseem’s century was typically good to watch, it was not without incident. He signalled that he was starting to find his range when he hit the first three balls of the third over, from Bilal Khan, for six.

He then drilled the fourth ball low to Zeeshan Maqsood, his opposite number, at mid-wicket. The Oman captain dived low to his right and claimed the catch, but Waseem stood and waited to be given out.

He had seen the ball had bobbled from Zeeshan’s grasp, and wanted confirmation from the third umpire whether it had settled in the crook of his arms or hit the ground. After a lengthy check, Waseem was told he could bat on.

Then, when he was on 35, he had two slices of luck in consecutive deliveries. First, Oman celebrated having him caught behind off Fayyaz Butt.

So certain were the home team that they had their man, the fast bowler did not even bother to check the umpire had given him out.

Again, Waseem stood his ground. Again, the officials agreed he was right to do so, suggesting he had not in fact nicked the ball.

So frustrated were the hosts becoming, the umpires had to interject to cool tempers. It did little, then, to improve their humour when Waseem chipped a simple caught and bowled back to Fayyaz, only for him to clutch at thin air.

He went on to reach 50 off 28, and later went to three figures off the 55th ball he faced.

While Waseem has long led the way for the UAE with the bat, Junaid Siddique has done similar with the ball.

And the fast bowler rammed home the advantage his captain had created for the UAE by taking two wickets in the first over of Oman’s reply.

The UAE were frenzied when they removed the dangerous Aqib Ilyas to leave Oman on 11 for three. Their over-excitement showed in their fielding, though, as they grassed four catches.

It mattered little in the final count up, though, as the daunting target prompted the worst batting performance of a tournament in which the home team were otherwise mostly flawless.

Siddique was the star, with three wickets. Mohammed Farooq took two in two balls with his leg-spin, while Aayan Khan also took two as the home team were limited to 149 for nine.

Updated: April 21, 2024, 3:09 PM