UAE miss out on reaching Women's T20 World Cup after narrow defeat to Sri Lanka

National team lose by 15 runs after heroic chase in Qualifier semi-final in Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka players celebrate on their way to a 15-run win over UAE to clinch a place in the T20 World Cup Qualifier final. Photo: ICC
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The UAE fell just short in their plucky pursuit of a first Women’s T20 World Cup appearance after Sri Lanka finally brought their class to bear in Abu Dhabi.

The national team were giving up nine places in the ICC rankings, as well as years’ worth of experience, to their opposition in the Qualifier semi-final at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

The fixture would decide the final participants in the main event in Bangladesh later this year, after Scotland had beaten Ireland to the penultimate place earlier in the day.

And, for 15.4 overs of their run chase it appeared as though the hosts might be about to cause one of the greatest shocks in the history of the women’s game.

It was at that point, though, that the heroic counter-attack by Esha Oza was halted. The national team’s hopes went with their disconsolate captain, as the Sri Lankans eventually ran out 15-run winners.

Little was expected of the UAE ahead of the game. They had done brilliantly to reach this point, after following up defeats against Ireland and Zimbabwe in their opening group stage games with thrilling wins over Netherlands and Vanuatu.

In their way was a formidable obstacle: a Sri Lanka side well used to big-match pressure, led by one of the world’s leading limited-overs batters, Chamari Athapaththu.

Home supporters knew well the threat posed by the left-handed powerhouse. If they could somehow get her cheaply, maybe the impossible was possible.

That would be to underestimate the excellence of the Sri Lankans, though. In fact, Athapaththu only sparkled briefly, making an even-paced 21 before she became the first of three stumpings for Theertha Satish, off the bowling of Vaishnave Mahesh.

And yet the Sri Lankans were still good enough to post 149 for six from their 20 overs, with Vishmi Gunuratne top scoring with 45.

The importance of the fixture brought some Sri Lankan fans out to support their side at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, and they were evidently excitable.

With three balls to go in the Sri Lanka innings, a couple of overzealous supporters ran on the field of play.

One was carrying a Sri Lanka flag, and they scooted straight back off before encroaching too far into the action, or even before security had twigged.

It was barely noticed by anyone, given that precisely as they were running around the outfield, the UAE were executing a run out.

Indhuja Nandakumar ran out Kavisha Dilhari, before Kavisha Kumari accounted for Nilakshika Silva off the last ball of the innings as the UAE belatedly applied the brakes.

Though the target felt tough, the underdogs attacked it improbably, led by their outstanding captain, Oza.

The opener drilled four huge sixes in a 44-ball stay that was worth 66. While she was there, anything felt possible.

But then, in the 16th over, she was bowled by Udeshika Prabodhani. The manic celebrations of the Sri Lankans showed they realised that was the game.

Oza, by stark contrast, was inconsolable, dropping her bat and gloves before heading down the tunnel to the dressing room.

The UAE required 42 more in 28 balls at that stage. In the end, all they could manage to get to was 134 for seven as Sri Lanka sealed qualification.

Updated: May 06, 2024, 6:29 AM