Chirag Suri warns UAE need to 'step up' after Saudi Arabia scare in Western Region T20

The national team beat Saudi Arabia by 12 runs on Tuesday to clinch top spot in Group B of the Western Region T20 at Oman Cricket Academy

Chirag Suri at the UAE v Iran match. Courtesy ICC
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Chirag Suri says UAE must be more clinical if they are to ensure progress to the next phase of Asia Cup qualifying, despite a third win in successive days in Oman.

The national team beat Saudi Arabia by 12 runs on Tuesday to clinch top spot in Group B of the Western Region T20 at Oman Cricket Academy in Al Amerat.

They will now likely face their regular combatants Oman in the semi-final on Wednesday.

Oman are one of the form sides in Associate cricket. They are riding high at the top of the Cricket World Cup League Two, and beat the UAE the last time they faced them in both 50-over and T20 formats.

They did, though, lose a pool match against little-heralded Qatar on Monday, which set up the potential meeting of the two top-ranked sides in the competition at the last-four stage.

Only the two finalists in this week’s competition in Oman will make it to the next stage of the qualifying process.

The Asia Cup is an emotive tournament for the UAE side in particular.

Two years ago they missed out on the chance to appear in the 50-over version on home soil, after losing the final of the qualifying competition to Hong Kong, also in Malaysia.

Now it is possible they have a second chance to play at the Asia Cup, this time in the T20 format, in their own backyard.

Pakistan have hosting rights for the competition, scheduled to be played in September this year, as a forerunner to the T20 World Cup in Australia a month later.

However, with India all but certain not to participate in a competition staged in Pakistan at this time, it could be shifted to a neutral venue – most likely UAE.

The final team to play alongside India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will come from the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia in August.

That competition will involve the top two sides from this event in Oman, as well two from a parallel tournament involving Nepal, Malaysia, Hong Kong Singapore and Thailand.

As such, the semi-final on Wednesday is essentially the most important match of the first qualifying tournament.

Although UAE have won all three matches so far, and had a massive net run-rate of 3.11 at the top of the group, they have been erratic at times.

The win over Saudi was closer than it might have been after Suri had batted them into a position of power.

The opener added 75 to the 51 he had made a day earlier, as UAE reached 138-3 midway through the 16th over.

From there, though, UAE lost seven wickets for 12 runs in 21 balls to fall to 150 all out with an over unused.

The fact Saudi got to within a couple of blows of a shock win was another sign of the improvements UAE will hope to make.

“We should have been more clinical with the quality we have,” Suri said.

“We have to step up. We are doing things well, but we have to finish things well, too.

“We have been starting things off really nicely, but we have to try to be dominating.

"In such tournaments, if you let it slip, other teams will get on top as well.

“We have seen that anybody can beat anybody, so you can’t leave it for anyone else. You have to do the job.

“When I was batting in the middle, maybe I should have made it to a hundred and finished the job myself.”

Oman currently occupy second spot in Group A, behind Qatar, having thrashed Maldives by 10 wickets in their final pool match on Tuesday morning.

Qatar can clinch top spot, even if they suffer a narrow loss to Bahrain on Tuesday afternoon.