Dougie Brown labelled the 23-run defeat to Canada in the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia one of his “most disappointing days” since becoming the UAE coach.
The national team contrived to lose despite being 88 for no wicket, chasing 210 to win at Wanderers in Windhoek.
Ashfaq Ahmed, Rameez Shahzad and then Mohammed Usman then gave up their wickets in the space of three balls, with Shaiman Anwar following soon after to a stunning caught and bowled by Nikhil Dutta.
Even the return of captain Rohan Mustafa, who left the wicket after a sustaining a finger injury, was not enough to quell the capitulation.
Mustafa was helpless on 37 not out, as Canada completed their second win in the competition.
“It was really disappointing, probably one of the most disappointing days I’ve had as UAE coach,” Brown said.
“At 90 for none, needing another 120, the game is very much ours to win. Then there were three poor bits of cricket, which the guys know, where half volleys were hit straight to fielders – then all of a sudden you are on the back foot.
“Credit to Canada, they fought really hard and had well-suited bowlers to that sort of wicket.”
A fast start by the Canadians prompted Mustafa to bring himself on to bowl just the fourth over of the game.
His off-spin was immediately effective, as he bowled out Ruvindu Gunasekara with the first ball he bowled.
Mustafa ended with five wickets, while his spin partner Ahmed Raza took two. Their excellence was let down, though, by the side’s batting.
“That is exactly what you want your captain to do,” Brown said of Mustafa’s bravery, both to bring himself on to bowl when Canada were rampant, and to come back to bat with an injury.
“It was just such a shame he was one of the few who did that. We got out to eight catches today.
“That tells you everything you need to know. I think only one dismissal physically bowled us out.
“The other nine, we can sit and think about what we could have done, but we didn’t do that under pressure, which is a shame.”
The result means the UAE realistically have to bounce back straight away and win their next match, against Nepal on Sunday, to keep their World Cup dream alive.
The top two teams from this competition in Namibia go to play the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe next month.
The UAE’s fate is in their own hands, thanks to an opening-day thrashing of Kenya on Thursday.
Canada are leading the way, having beaten Oman – who bounced back to beat Nepal in their second match – on the opening day.
“I think we improved from [the win against Oman],” said Nitish Kumar, who was named man of the match for scoring 62 and taking two wickets for Canada.
“That is how you want to play a tournament, you want to gradually improve as you go, but you can’t be in a better position than 2-0. Credit to the boys, they have been trying really hard on and off the field.”