Naveed, Haider fire UAE to long-awaited win
United Arab Emirates 441 for 8 dec (Usman 103, Haider 102*, Dai 4-126) and 42 for 1 (Anwar 32*) beat Papua New Guinea 194 (Vare 38, Soper 38, Raza 3-38, Qadeer 3-43) and 286 (Siaka 142*, Naveed 4-78, Haider 4-93) by nine wickets
Lega Siaka's career-best 142 not out was not enough to prevent a nine-wicket defeat for Papua New Guinea at the hands of United Arab Emirates in their Intercontinental Cup match in Abu Dhabi. It was UAE's first win of the competition, and their first since September 2013 in first-class cricket, also by the same margin. In the interim, they had lost three of their four matches - two of them by heavy margins - and drawn the other.
"It's an awesome feeling," Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, said. "There has been a lot of work that has gone into this in the past three months, and all the credit for embracing the work and the vision we have presented goes to the players.
"It was a pretty flat wicket. I thought the way the guys stuck to it with the ball and in the field was absolutely exceptional. Dominic Tello [UAE assistant coach] deserves a lot of credit for the hours he has put in, but the guys deserve most of the credit because they are the ones putting in the hard work."
UAE dominated the match right from the first day. Having chosen to bat, PNG were quickly in trouble as seamers Mohammad Naveed and Qadeer Ahmed dismantled the top-order to leave them 33 or 3. From there, it was all downhill. Jack Vare and Chad Soper, PNG's Nos. 8 and 9, scored 38 each to lift them from 110 for 7 to 194. The new-ball pair of Naveed and Qadeer shared five wickets and spinners Imran Haider and Ahmed Raza took the rest.
UAE gained a 247-run first-innings lead, courtesy a 63 from Rameez Shahzad and centuries from Muhammad Usman and Saqlain Haider. Both raised their maiden first-class centuries - both were playing their third game. Usman was dismissed for 103, while Saqlain remained unbeaten on 102 when UAE declared at 441 for 8. Legspinner Mahuru Dai took 4 for 126, his best returns in first-class cricket.
"I think I'm right in saying the team haven't scored 400 before in a first innings," Brown said. "For them to get that and for us to be in a position where we can declare, to give ourselves the best part of five sessions to try to win the game, was fantastic."
PNG managed to make UAE bat again courtesy Siaka, who scored nearly 50% of his team's second-innings runs. Siaka began day four on 51, having taken PNG to 152 for 4 (effectively minus 95 for 4) in the company of Sese Bau. Bau fell early, ending a fifth-wicket stand of 67. Thereafter, it was all Siaka until he ran out of partners. Legspinner Haider, who scythed through the top half of PNG's line-up, and Naveed took four wickets each for UAE.
UAE needed a mere 42 to win. They lost Laxman Sreekumar for 4, before Shaiman Anwar blitzed an unbeaten 32 off 19 balls as UAE knocked off the runs in just 5.5 overs.
Dipak Patel, the PNG coach, put the defeat down to lack of first-innings runs, but added there was plenty to learn from it.
"In the first innings we didn't get enough runs," Patel, the former New Zealand spinner, said. "There is a lack of experience among our batsmen. We are still learning. This is only the fourth time they have played a four-day game.
"The natural instinct for our players is to play shots. We can take a lot out of it, particularly the classy knock by Lega Siaka in the second innings."