SA v UAE, Group B, Wellington March 12, 2015

Tauqir heartened by UAE fight

Play 01:13
'Playing 50 overs against SA boosts confidence' - Tauqir

At 43, Khurram Khan, the tournament's oldest player, would have gone through his coming of age at least two decades ago. But South Africa's bowlers decided he needed another one.

The first ball Morne Morkel bowled to him was chest-high but wide enough to be left alone. The second was similar. The third quicker. And the fourth went crashing into his helmet.

Morkel checked on his man but still sent the fifth ball the same way and found his glove. Respect your elders? Not here.

"I was a bit shocked that instead of hitting the wicket, they were hitting the batsman," Mohammad Tauqir said.

South Africa's attack were not at their poison-tipped sharpest but they did what a South African pace pack does when they sense vulnerabilities in their opposition and attacked the only way they know how. Morkel made use of the two bouncers he was allowed every over. Dale Steyn also kept it short as much as he could and even AB de Villiers trialled the bouncer and was rewarded with a wicket.

De Villiers denied that South Africa were using it as a scare tactic, saying conditions dictated the approach more than the quality of the opposition. "There was a bit of dew around and the wicket sped up a bit so the short ball skidded on nicely. I won't say that's a set game plan."

UAE were overawed even though they were not shot out as they were against India or as impressed as they were with Pakistan.

"Pakistan has an equally aggressive attack. All three of their bowlers bowl at 145-plus, but South Africa were targeting the body, not the batsmen," Tauqir said. "We tried our best. This is the best we could have done. Their bowlers were too good for us."

Despite never really being in the chase, Tauqir was impressed with the way his men competed against a side that could have blown them away. "We are amateurs and we played almost 50 overs. These are positive signs for us," he said. "We don't play South Africa every day. We don't face these kind of bowlers every day. Playing them for almost 50 overs gives us a lot of confidence."

He was just as heartened by their bowling, especially after joking that the only way his team would not concede more than 400 against South Africa was by batting first and being proved wrong. "South Africa are one of the best teams and one of the favourites for the World Cup. Our bowling was very good today. Up to 44 or 45 overs, it seemed they would only score 300 but even restricting them to 340 was not bad. They have scored over 400 against Test nations. We have restricted them below that. That's an achievement."

A greater achievement for UAE will be to leave the tournament with a win, and they have one more opportunity to do that. Their final game of the group stage takes place on Sunday against West Indies, whom Tauqir is targeting in what seems the same way the South African bowlers went after his line-up. "I don't see West Indies as strong as India or South Africa," he said. "We'd like to put up a better show against them."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments