UAE jump to second place, in hunt for World Cup spot
United Arab Emirates 215 (Anwar 57, Viljoen 4-40) beat Namibia 80 (Mustafa 3-8, Silva 2-19) by 135 runs
United Arab Emirates leapfrogged into second place on the World Cricket League Championship table with a resounding win over Namibia, giving themselves a shot at direct qualification into the 2015 World Cup.
UAE, who were placed fifth on the table before their two WCL matches against Namibia, edged Netherlands out of the second place with a higher number of wins - nine against Netherlands' eight victories. The race for the second place, however, is far from over. Afghanistan are currently fourth on the table with 15 points and two games in hand. What UAE's victory has done is clearly define Afghanistan's goal for the last two matches: they need wins against Kenya on October 2 and October 4. A loss in any match or an abandoned game would end Afghanistan's chances of direct qualification.
UAE's win over Namibia on Sunday was their second successive victory with a margin of more than 100 runs. In the second game, Namibia, who chose to bowl, made a good start, dismissing Mohammad Azam for 6 off the third ball of the match. Shaiman Anwar, who has made a habit of helping UAE recover from poor starts in recent List A games, did the same again, constructing a 75-ball 57 and adding 81 runs for the second wicket with Saqib Ali. Anwar is now the leading run-getter in the WCL Championship, with 625 runs from 14 games at an average of 52.08. His UAE team-mate Khurram Khan also leads the run charts of the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
UAE lost a few quick wickets after Anwar was out and a steady 45-run, sixth-wicket stand between Mohammad Shafiq and Rohan Mustafa helped them stage a small recovery, taking the team to 177 for 5 in the 45th over. Ahmed Raza and Mustafa then added some quick runs after Shafiq fell to push the team total past 200. Namibia pacer Christi Viljoen, used in short bursts throughout the UAE innings, struck off successive deliveries to dismiss Raza and Nasir Aziz in the penultimate over. UAE's innings ended for 215 in the next over when Louis van der Westhuizen dismissed Mustafa and Shadeep Silva.
Namibia started cautiously but faced a double blow when Silva bowled van der Westhuizen and Stephan Baard off successive deliveries in the fifth over. Xander Pitchers and wicketkeeper Jaen Kotze tried resurrecting the chase, but once Pitchers fell for 29, with the score at 46 for 3, Namibia collapsed. They lost their last eight wickets for 34, even as Khurram Khan and Nasir Aziz missed out on hat-tricks in the 24th and 32nd over respectively.
UAE coach and former Pakistan bowler, Aqib Javed praised Anwar and Mustafa for their performances and said that the team had planned to achieve this result.
"As usual, Shamin Anwar has done really well and today he becomes the highest run-getter. I'm glad the Khurram Khan is the highest run-getter in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and Shaiman is in the WCL Championship," Javed said. "I think that we have some good batsmen for the UAE and today Rohan Mustafa, the youngster, was brilliant. I think his improvement in the last six to eight months is amazing. I think he will be a key player for the UAE in the coming years."
Namibia coach Doug Watson said the side's poor batting form was the main cause of their loss: "There's probably more pressure on them than us, with what they had to play for, but I think there was pressure anyway because of how poorly we played in the first WCL Championship game. It was a much better performance today, and again, the fielding and bowling was brilliant - it was the batting that let us down."