Batsmen lead UAE to victory
UAE 165 for 5 (Haider 59, Onyango 2-32) beat Kenya 150 for 5 (Obuya 42, Raza 2-15) by 15 runs
The UAE batsmen continued a day of upsets at the World Twenty20 Qualifiers, by setting up an unlikely victory against Kenya in Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Following on from USA's victory over Scotland and Ireland's defeat to Afghanistan, the home captain Khurram Khan won the toss and chose to bat. On a flat pitch the openers made light work of the Kenyan bowlers, coasting to 35 inside four overs before Mohammad Iqbal was defeated by Lameck Onyango for 20. Wicketkeeper Abdul Rehman fell soon after to the medium-pace of youngster Nelson Odhiambo. It brought Saqib Ali to join Arfan Haider at the crease and the two calmly put on 61 in eight overs for the third wicket. Left-hander Haider flayed five fours and two sixes on his way to 59, his first Twenty20 International fifty before he was eventually dismissed by the impressive Nelson Odhiambo, caught by Hiren Varaiya.
With the total at 103 for 2 off 13 overs, his dismissal could have sparked a Kenyan revival. Instead Khan came out and clubbed four boundaries from his 19 balls, sharing a 41-run stand in 25 balls with Ali. They fell in quick succession to leave UAE 144 for 5 with 11 balls to go. Naeemuddin Aslam and Shadeep Silva scampered 21 runs to leave UAE with a competitive 165.
Given the form of their top-order in the recent matches, Kenya would have fancied their chances of chasing down the total against an inexperienced team but dangerous opener David Obuya couldn't get away as he was caught by Qasim Zubair off Qadar Nawaz for 2 in the second over.
Steve Tikilo, one of the most gifted and experienced batsmen in Associate cricket, then looked to arrest the momentum stroking four quick boundaries. Having raced to 25 from 18 balls he was trapped lbw to Silva's left-arm spin. Silva struck again in his next over, removing Alex Obanda in the same fashion for 13, to leave Kenya facing a daunting 116 from 11.5 overs.
Captain Maurice Ouma and Collins Obuya did their best in a 69-run partnership for the fourth wicket, but couldn't score at the rate required. Given the situation they were strangely becalmed and by the time Ouma was dismissed for 39 by Ahmed Raza in the 18th over 47 runs were still needed. Jimmy Kamande and Collins Obuya upped the scoring rate but it wasn't to be. Kenya finished 15 runs short to give hosts UAE a chance of causing a major upset and progressing to their first global tournament since the 1996 World Cup.
Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo