Aryan Lakra’s extraordinary run of form continued as the UAE thrashed Bahrain in the ACC Western Region Under 19 qualifier in Dubai on Saturday.
The left-handed all-rounder took 6-16 as the national age-group side fired out their Arabian Gulf neighbours for 88 in 41.2 overs at The Sevens, Dubai.
The hosts barely broke sweat in the run chase, as they eased to a nine-wicket win with over 32 overs to spare.
Success at the competition carries with it a place at the Under 19 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka later this year.
It was the second win in the space of two days at the start of the competition for the UAE, and continues on from their historic win in the World Cup Qualifier in Malaysia last week.
Latest episode of our weekly podcast
The national team had never previously qualified for an Under 19 World Cup – other than when they were afforded an automatic place as hosts in 2014. But they sealed a trip to South Africa next year after winning five matches out of five in Kuala Lumpur.
That triumph was centred largely on the excellence of their captain, Lakra, who was named player of the tournament after picking up 13 wickets with the ball, and making two half-centuries with the bat.
Lakra was initially then named as vice-captain for this qualifying competition for the Asia Cup, which started on Friday when UAE beat Saudi Arabia by a massive 173 runs. Vriitya Aravind, the UAE wicketkeeper, scored a century in that game at the Dubai International Stadium.
However, Fahad Nawaz, the original captain, was ruled ineligible for selection on the eve of the tournament.
Lakra has not missed a beat, though, as he took six wickets with his left-arm spin against Bahrain.
Mohammed Faraazuddin then top-scored with 47 not out in the run chase, and he shared in an unbroken second-wicket stand worth 89 with Ashwanth Valthapa, who made 35 not out.
With a massive net run-rate of 3.699 after their two wins, the UAE are all but guaranteed a place in Wednesday’s semi-finals, with one group match – against Iran on Monday – still to play.
In the other match in the UAE’s pool on Saturday, Saudi Arabia revived their chances of a semi-final place as they eased to a win over Iran at the Dubai International Stadium.
Oman beat Maldives by 49 runs, while Kuwait thrashed Qatar by 126 runs.