Khurram fashions close win for UAE
It needed a captain's innings from Khurram Khan to take UAE from the brink of defeat to a one-wicket win against Namibia in a low-scoring match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Chasing 177, UAE slumped to 99 for 7 before Khurram put together 39 for the eighth wicket with Amjad Javed. Namibia struck twice to regain control of the match, but a 33-run last-wicket stand between Khurram and Ahmed Raza gave the hosts the win. Khurram finished with 54 off 103. Namibia's seamers had put their team on top, with Louis Klazinga taking three wickets, and Kola Burger and Sarel Burger two each.
For UAE, the spinners got the early breakthroughs. Left-arm spinner Shadeep Silva took the first three within the first ten overs, and offspinner Mohammad Tauqir pegged away at the middle order. A half-century by Gerrie Snyman gave the innings some momentum, but then seamer Arshad Ali ripped out the tail and Namibia were left defending a modest score.
Khurram gave the credit for the win to his bowlers. "It's obviously fantastic to get off to a winning start for the event, and it was good to beat Namibia whom we lost to in the I-Shield final recently," he said. "I think our bowling was particularly strong today as our spinners worked their way through the Namibian batting line-up to give us the upper hand in the game. When we saw the pitch originally this morning we thought it might seam a bit but we decided to go with the three spinners and it really paid off.
"Our batting obviously needs to be worked on; we didn't seem to be able to create partnerships which I think is a common problem when chasing a small total, coupled with the pressure of chasing a target. I'm obviously pleased that I could help my side to stabilise and ultimately win the match after a couple of good partnerships with the lower order, and hopefully we can continue the momentum of winning into our next fixture."
After the game, Arshad was reprimanded by the ICC for "showing dissent at an umpire's decision"
Papua New Guinea, recently promoted from Division 3, got the highest score of the day - 231 after being put in to bat - and it was enough for them to pick up a 43-run victory against Bermuda at the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai. Tony Ura got a half-century at the top of the order for PNG, and Mahuru Dai and Vani Morea made useful contributions. Bermuda lost two early wickets in their chase, and even though all their middle-order batsmen got starts, they were never abreast of the required rate. Chris Amini had missed out with the bat but was miserly with his seamers, bowling ten overs for just 26 runs with two wickets.
"Tony Ura was key in the opening innings," PNG coach Greg Campbell said after the game. "Mahuru Dai and Vani Morea down the bottom of the order were all key for us today's win. Vani did very well as it was his first time playing in a while. I think Bermuda challenged us today; their captain David Hemp is very experienced and has played a lot of cricket. But you know Hong Kong and ourselves have shown today that we are not just here to fill spaces and keep numbers up - we're here to stay."
Hong Kong, who came up from Division 3 with PNG, beat Uganda by 26 runs on the other ground of the Cricket Academy, thanks to an unbeaten 70 by 16-year-old Mark Chapman. Hussain Butt had set a solid base for Hong Kong with his 55, but the middle and lower order squandered it as none of them kept Chapman company. Apart from Aizaz Khan, who got 33, no other batsman from No. 5 onwards got into double figures, and it required Chapman to bat through to get his team to 204. Uganda were going well in their chase, with opener Roger Mukasa getting a half-century, but 18-year-old legspinner Nizakat Khan bowled an incredible spell of 10-3-14-4 and Uganda were bowled out for 178.
Chapman was declared Man of the Match, and said Hong Kong benefitted from the fielding lapses by Uganda. "The decks here are really good and the grounds are much bigger than Hong Kong which helped us today," he said. "Uganda are a good fielding side but they weren't as disciplined as we had anticipated and I think we managed to take advantage of that to win today.
"I think our middle order needs some improvement after today and the three run-outs that occurred. It was a culmination of poor communication and poor running - so we've a lot to work on. It's key for us not to lose wickets in the middle stages from now on."