Ireland poised for win despite Saqib heroics
UAE 228 and 186 for 7 (Saqib 98*, Zahid 14*, McCallan 3-65) trail Ireland 474 (Niall 174, McCallan 52*, Saqib 3-84) by 60 runs
Ireland marched towards victory against United Arab Emirates on the third day of their Intercontinental Cup match, with the hosts tottering at 186 for 7 after conceding a 246-run lead on the first innings.
Niall O'Brien, who made 137 on the second day, added a further 37 to his score as Ireland converted their overnight score of 366 for 7 to 474. UAE, who had dismissed Trent Johnston on the second day's final delivery to end a 163-run stand, were yet again frustrated as Niall found company in Kyle McCallan.
UAE were unable to dislodge McCallan during his 52, which included a 77-run eight-wicket partnership with Niall. Sameer Zia finally ended Niall's innings on 174, and then dismissed Greg Thompson for 1. Last-man Dave Langford-Smith scored 15 in a 37-run stand with McCallan, before UAE captain Saqib Ali put an end to the misery.
Saqib was UAE's leading bowler, with figures of 3 for 84. He was not done for the day though, and came with a fighting 98 as he kept his team in the hunt to avoid an innings defeat.
McCallan, coming in a first change, removed the openers Amjad Ali and Gayan Silva, while Johnston had Naeemuddin Aslam trapped leg-before as UAE stumbled to 64 for 3. Rashid Khan (17) put on a 44-run partnership with Saqib, but his wicket triggered a collapse; Alex Cusack scalped two as UAE lost four wickets for 19 runs.
Saqib took control from then on, and got support from No. 9 Zahid Shah to take UAE to 186 for 7 at stumps, still trailing by 60. Saqib played an attacking knock; his 98 came off 137 deliveries, with 14 fours and two sixes.
McCallan capped off a good day with a 3 for 65 to add to his unbeaten fifty, while Cusack's seven overs went for only ten runs, and his two wickets jolted UAE at a crucial juncture.