Ahmed Raza rues missed opportunity after UAE are hammered by Ireland in final ODI

Home captain admits batting let his team down after sparking display from Singh guides Irish to win and levels series at 1-1

Ahmed Raza rued a missed opportunity after the UAE passed up a chance for a first series win over a Test nation as they were soundly beaten by Ireland in the second one-day international in Abu Dhabi.

A sparkling individual performance by Simi Singh underpinned Ireland’s 112-run win over the national team at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

The off-spinner made his first half-century in ODI cricket to help the Irish rebuild after a tough start, as they eventually posted 228-6 from their 50 overs.

The home side then capitulated weakly in the face of his slow bowling, as he ended up with five for 10 from his 10 overs, which was the third most economical five-wicket haul in the format.

It was a miserable end to a series that has started so well for the hosts. Their opening-day win, by six wickets, 10 days earlier had been just the second time the UAE head beaten a Test nation in ODI cricket.

They were beset by a series of challenges thereafter. Four of their players tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the next match to be suspended four times.

While they were confined to their hotel rooms for eight days, Ireland had to hastily arrange a practice match against Afghanistan, who they face in three more ODIs in Abu Dhabi, starting on Thursday.

The problems were quickly forgotten, though, when the UAE had their visitors 10 for three early on, with Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien and Andy Balbirnie all falling cheaply.

The Irish repaired the damage via a 91-run partnership by Singh and Curtis Campher, who ended as the player of the match and the player of the series respectively.

The UAE crumbled against Singh’s spin, and Raza, the UAE captain, bemoaned a lack of positivity from his side’s batsmen.

“It is a hard one to swallow, but we are not looking to give any excuses – that is not the culture we want in our dressing room,” Raza said.

“We have to take it on the chin, take whatever positives we can from the whole series, and work on the things we need to.

“Intent was lacking [with the bat]. Not to take anything away from Simi, who bowled an exceptional spell, but if we had shown some intent, things could have been a little different.

“Someone had to take that positive option and take ownership of it. It comes down to intent, and that is something we can talk about in our dressing room.

“I see this as an opportunity getting lost, and that is not easy to take.”

The game hinged on Singh’s spell. Only India’s Sunil Joshi and Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan have take nmiserly five-wicket hauls in the history of ODI cricket.

“It was just one of those days where things click for you,” Singh said. “The confidence from the batting comes into the bowling and the plan was pretty simple: bowl as many dot balls as we can, and that was just what I was trying to do.

“Once you get a couple of wickets, you can build pressure and get into a rhythm. I found the right pace for that wicket, and it was just one of those days.”

Balbirnie, Ireland’s captain, said Singh’s effort had been “as good a performance as I’ve seen from an Irish player in an ODI,” and also reserved praise for Campher.

Campher top scored with 56, which was his third half-century in four innings so far in his international career having made two against England last summer.

“Curtis has been incredible since he came into our team in the England series in Southampton, with the ball and the bat,” Balbirnie said.

“He is just very consistent and we always know what we are going to get from him.

“Simi is a brilliant cricketer. Unfortunately, he missed out on the first ODI, but he is always knocking on the door, and whenever he does get his chance, he seems to take that.”