UAE face mighty Sri Lanka for place at Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh

National team advance to Sunday’s Qualifier semi-final in Abu Dhabi after beating Vanuatu on thrilling last day of group stage

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Chamari Athapaththu and Sri Lanka now stand between the UAE and a place at the Women’s T20 World Cup after a dramatic final day of pool play in Abu Dhabi.

The national team vaulted above the Netherlands on Friday to earn a second-place finish in their group in the global qualifier, and so a place in Sunday’s semi-finals.

They had started the day in third place, knowing they needed to claim a win over Vanuatu in their final game, and try to bridge a substantial net run-rate gap in doing so.

The Dutch had a run-rate buffer of +1.117 ahead of their own match against table-topping Ireland, which followed the UAE’s game.

Once the UAE had made 133-7 it meant they needed to restrict Vanuatu to 53 to ensure they would pass the Netherlands’ net run-rate.

They did not manage quite that, but they did everything they could in the field to make it happen.

The Pacific Island side were limited to 63-8 from their 20 overs. It meant the UAE needed favours from Ireland. First, by beating the Netherlands in the second game of the evening, then by doing so by more than 10 runs.

The Irish made good on that, as they thrashed the Dutch by 54 runs, to finish the group unbeaten, and take the UAE through with them to the last four.

Reaching the seminal stage of the competition is a fine achievement by the host nation, not least because of the fact they lost their opening two matches to Ireland and Zimbabwe.

“It is great character shown by the girls,” Esha Oza, the UAE captain, said.

“Most of them are coming out of Under 19s and to come off two losses like that then put on the performance they have in these two games, it is amazing to see their self-belief.”

The top two sides in the 10-team event will advance to the World Cup in Bangladesh in September.

The UAE women’s side have never played at a World Cup before, and this is just the second time they have featured in a global qualifier.

They claimed one notable win in their first appearance two years ago, when they beat Zimbabwe, but have looked far more assured this time around.

They thrashed the Netherlands by 10 wickets in their third game in the competition, and Oza said the confidence created by that win fuelled their performance against Vanuatu.

“We put our best foot forward and have done the best we can,” Oza said during the intermission between their win and the start of the Ireland-Netherlands game.

“In the meeting before the game we just spoke about how those two points are more important than anything else. We had to look for the win.

“We had a good last game, and it was about taking that momentum forward. We may have put a few more runs on the board, but we fought well in the second innings as well.”

Sunday’s semi-final with pit the UAE against Sri Lanka, who include the world’s No 1-ranked ODI batter, Athapaththu.

Although they are giving away much in terms of rankings and experience, the national team have shown plenty of pluck so far in the competition.

Their 70-run win over Vanuatu again featured an outstanding burst with the new ball by Samaira Dharnidharka.

She took 4-12, meaning she has taken 7-23 in eight overs across the UAE’s two wins this week.

“It is great to be playing against teams ranked higher than us, and to be giving them a tough fight is even better,” Dharnidharka said.

“I have really worked on increasing my pace. That is my unique selling point, and I try to scare the batters away.”

Updated: May 04, 2024, 6:44 AM