UAE suffer big stage fright again

The all-Emirati side is no match to Oman's experience in the Gulf Cup and lose at the final hurdle.

Altaf Mohammed of UAE bats as Niyaz Ahmed of Oman looks on.
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DUBAI // For the second time in successive nights a side of cricketers representing the UAE stumbled at the final hurdle in their bid to bring home some silverware. This time it was an all-Emirati XI, who followed the lead of the side officially recognised as the national team 24 hours earlier by falling to defeat in the finale of the first Gulf Cup solely for Arab nationals, at the Dubal cricket ground. They were comfortably beaten by Oman, whose players made their considerable advantage in terms of cricketing experience tell as they forced a 65-run win. Mohsin Gul Baig looked a class apart with the bat for Oman, after arriving at the crease upon the fall of the first wicket, with the score on just three. That was quickly to become 12 for two when Nadeem Mohammed became Marwan Khamis's second victim, but Baig set right the course in spectacular fashion. He was next out, but the score had reached 91 by that time, of which he had remarkably contributed 70. His innings included four sixes and used up just 30 deliveries. The scoring rate dropped when he went, and the Emirati players would have felt they were well in the game when a combination of Khamis's fine bowling and some sharp fielding reduced the Omanis to 154 for eight. Yet the wheels came off spectacularly in the 19th over. Oman's last pair were at the wicket at the time, but had little problems in taking 21 off the left-arm spin of Mortaza Ismail. It was a telling swing in momentum, as the travelling side hoisted themselves to 207 for nine and carried renewed confidence with them into the field. Ibrahim al Mazroohi, a talented young UAE all-rounder, briefly shone with the bat in reply, but his 40 only delayed the inevitable. Sharif Pindook, the seam-bowler, was the destroyer-in-chief for the victors, taking four for 21 as the Emiratis stumbled to 152. Despite their disappointment at defeat, the UAE will consider their display a triumph, in a tournament they hastily arranged within the space of two months, in order to assist their ambition of playing at next year's Asian Games where only passport holders will be allowed to play.