Pakistan v UAE, Asia Cup 2016, Mirpur February 29, 2016

Pakistan overcome hiccups for seven-wicket win

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Pakistan 131 for 3 (Malik 63*, Akmal 50*, Javed 3-36) beat UAE 129 for 6 (Anwar 46, Amir 2-6, Irfan 2-30) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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UAE's decision to bat seemed a bit like someone doing away with the veggies so they could get to the meat quicker. All their captain Amjad Javed hoped for was "120 to 130" runs; they got 129. Pakistan tried to sink their teeth into the target and suddenly found it was more than they could chew. The top three fell by the time the fourth over of the chase began, but Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal buckled down and took Pakistan to a seven-wicket victory in Mirpur.

While that margin indicates it was all hunky dory, Javed's new-ball burst and the way he could rally his team together had given UAE a strong chance to record their first victory against a Full Member. He took three wickets off his first seven balls to make his team believe, and then made sure they did not waver by slinging his arm around every one of his bowlers while he was at the top of his run-up and clapping his hands until they stung.

Pakistan were 17 for 3 when Akmal and Malik got together. They recognised the momentum was with UAE, but knew they could turn it around. They just had to bide their time, to keep their wickets intact and take the chase deep so that the ball wouldn't be swinging and their experience could trump UAE's adrenaline. The first boundary of their fourth-wicket partnership came off the 15th ball and the next one came off the 31st but overhauling a target of 130 doesn't take pyrotechnics. Just patience.

There was a moment when UAE could have stormed back. With 40 runs to win from 26 balls, Malik dragged a Mohammad Shahzad bouncer from outside off and the resulting top-edge seemed destined for deep square leg's hands but Usman Mushtaq, who was brought into the XI in place of Saqlain Haider, dropped it. Malik reached his fifty with a four and a six off the next two balls he faced and along with Akmal sealed Pakistan's victory with their unbeaten 114-run partnership.

Javed was in uproar when the catch went down. He could have had a match-winning three-wicket haul after all. He dismissed Sharjeel Khan lbw, but replays showed the ball would have climbed over the stumps. Two balls later, Khurram Manzoor was caught behind playing an unwise cut against a rising ball that didn't give him the requisite room to free his arms.

Javed's final wicket of the night though came about because of the room he offered to the batsman. Mohammad Hafeez thought he had an easy put away through the covers but failed to keep his drive down much to the glee of one of UAE's best fielder Fahad Tariq. The one over he saved for the death turned out to be dreadful as Malik and Akmal caned 23 off it to pull ahead.

That Pakistan would need to huff and puff a bit had not seemed likely when they had UAE at 12 for 3 in four overs. Mohammad Amir was in the thick of things again, bowling a first over that went for only one run and following up with a second that had five dot balls and an indipper that squeezed through Muhammad Kaleem's limp defences. At the other end, Mohammad Sami made Rohan Mustafa pay for driving on the up by summoning some extra bounce. The batsman spooned a simple catch to mid-off and extra bounce from the seven-foot tall Mohammad Irfan accounted for Mohammad Shahzad.

Pakistan were barely at full throttle. They even rested their fastest bowler Wahab Riaz to give left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz an international debut. But the rest stacked enough balls around middle and off stump to capitalise on the batsmen's mistakes.

Shaiman Anwar stuck it out for 46 off 42 balls, but he may have been helped by Pakistan resorting to spin soon after the Powerplay. Shahid Afridi brought himself on, at the other end came Nawaz and UAE found some relief. They were 20 for 3 and going nowhere, but seven overs of slow bowling got them to 70 for 4. Anwar even took Afridi for a hat-trick of fours - a cut right through the point fielder, a beautiful loft over extra cover and a superbly-timed sweep. Lucky over 13 yielded 17 runs, the most UAE have scored in one over against a Full Member in T20Is.

There had been plenty of plays and misses because the UAE batsmen had not faced quick bowlers of this quality. At the 2015 World Cup, then captain Mohammad Tauqir had been shocked at the South Africa quicks roughing up their batsmen with bouncers. Here too, the company of Amir, Irfan and Sami were outclassing them. Amir had 21 dot balls out of 24, Irfan and Sami had 15 apiece.

Still, UAE went down swinging in their death overs as edges and mis-hits flew to the boundary to get a total that gave them a chance. But once again, they couldn't seal the deal and are now out of the Asia Cup.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • championcommando on March 2, 2016, 4:28 GMT

    shaiman Anwar what a player he is , certainly a big heart player who likes to take challenges. we saw him in last year ODI Wc where he score consistently and now again rise against a good bowling line up.

  • Coolcapricorn on March 1, 2016, 16:55 GMT

    @SUBCONTINENTALLOSER Sorry to disappoint you but we were not crushed by SL today, carry on with your h8!

  • FawadAlam4Lyfe on March 1, 2016, 14:46 GMT

    @LOVEMYBHARATH , if you find a t20 opener in pak who has a better record than Sharjeel, then you can criticise him as much you want.

  • MUN28 on March 1, 2016, 14:28 GMT

    Muhammad Nawaz should not be dropped now.If Pakistan has given chance to him,then they should give him proper chance.

  • yuhaider on March 1, 2016, 12:52 GMT

    Congrats to Pakistan for winning against UAE even though with a big scare having had lost 3 wickets only for 16 or 17runs. Why K Manzoor is in the team? Is he a relation of any high ups in Pak cricket? M Nawaz who replaced Wahab was a shocker. It was like replacing a dumb with a deaf. Why Imad Wasim is not tried. He is much better than Nawaz. He is a match winner as we have seen him against Sri Lanka. Minus Amir Pakistan bowling is a cipher, and spin attack is perhaps the worst among the participating countries in the current Asia cup. In their next match Bangladesh will thrash them by laying a spinner friendly pitch. Sakib and Mahmudullah will crush their (Pak) batting to pulp. Hafiz has no commitment to the game; he is pedestrian in the fielding and irresponsible in batting. He should go. Where is Grant Flower, the batting coach and the newly appointed bowling coach Azhar Mahmud? We could only see the Grumpy Head coach in Pak dug out. Bring Aqib back as the bowling coach.

  • lovemybharath on March 1, 2016, 11:28 GMT

    PCB got overexcited with PSL. with fair amount of successful PSL, immediately 2 or 3 players came into international team. if they are so excited to imitate IPL, it only causes some problems. these raw talent guys have hardly played few matches in PSL and none of the matches were pressure matches, suddenly playing biggies like India is asking too much. by the way I am referring to sharjeel, Raees and Nawaz

  • kanad_Boston on March 1, 2016, 10:59 GMT

    @AHMED ALI SURTY: Why did not they play?

  • WalidNisar on March 1, 2016, 10:47 GMT

    If Pakistan want to do well in this Asia Cup and the WT20 then Afridi has to open the innings or come at one down..He did it in the WT20 2009 on seaming bouncy and swinging English Pitches so why not on batting friendly Indian pitches in the WT20 or Bangladesh pitches in the Asia CUP ....PLEASE LALA OPEN OR COME AT NUMBER 3 !!!!

  • Ahmed Ali Surty on March 1, 2016, 10:01 GMT

    Afghanistan would have made difference if they played in this cup instead of uae

  • Farsid on March 1, 2016, 9:55 GMT

    "Javed's new-ball burst and the way he could rally his team together had given UAE a strong chance to record their first victory against a Full Member."

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