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Mark Pennell in Abu Dhabi
March 21, 2009
Surrey 270 for 5 (Ramprakash 127*) beat UAE 269 for 6 (Saqib 92*) by five wickets
Mark Ramprakash scored an imperious, unbeaten 127 to inspire Surrey to a five-wicket win over the host country, United Arab Emirates, as they chased down a stiff total of 270 at the Zayed Stadium.
Ramprakash has been suffering with slight back spasms since landing in Dubai last weekend, but he made light of them by batting for 205 minutes under the floodlights to help Surrey to recover from a minor batting scare in order to post an utterly professional win.
Ramprakash teamed up with captain Usman Afzaal (20), Matthew Spriegel (24) and finally Chris Jordan, this after the UAE had caused the shock of the Pro Arch Tournament by reaching 269 for 6.
Surrey's reply floundered early on as seamer Zahid Shah took 2 for 61 in his nine overs, including the scalps of opener Michael Brown with his first ball, then offspinner Owais Hameed accounted for Stewart Walters and Spriegel.
The slide simply piled more pressure onto the shoulders of Ramprakash, but at the age of 39, he showed exactly why he has a hundred first-class hundreds to his name by taking command in a crisis.
His innings was beautifully paced, and contained seven fours and two sixes, yet he still needed assistance from Jordan, whose late cameo of 43 not out from 51 balls ensured there would be no giant-killing as Surrey edged home with an over to spare.
Afterwards Ramprakash said: "It is lovely to spend some time at the crease as we have got a lot of one-day cricket up front at the start of the season. I just didn't expect to have to do as much in my first game!
"They bowled really well with the new ball and even though we had a reasonable start with 50 for two, they kept coming and got a couple of wickets."
Earlier, legspinner Chris Schofield proved the most miserly of the Surrey attack sending down his 10 overs unchanged to finish with 1 for 35. The UAE innings had been held together by Emirates skipper Saqib Ali hit who stroked eight boundaries in his unbeaten 92 from only 86 balls.
Saqib joined forces with Nitin Gobal to add 53 for the fourth wicket, finding the spaces well and rotating the strike, they also disposed of anything loose to boost the run rate until Nitin ran past one from Schofield to be stumped by Gary Wilson for a hard-hit 74 from 78 balls deliveries.
Jordan and Alex Tudor finished with identical figures of 2 for 55 and though UAE easily reached their best total of the tournament to date, they were just unable to defend it.
Mark Pennell is a freelance journalist who is covering the Pro Arch Trophy for Cricinfo
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