Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
United Arab Emirates 270 for 4 (Rizwan 109, Usman 102*, Campher 2-31) beat Ireland 269 for 5 (Stirling 131, Balbirnie 53, Mustafa 2-43) by six wickets
Paul Stirling's 10th ODI hundred was not good enough for Ireland in Abu Dhabi, as hosts United Arab Emirates chased down the 270-run target to win the first ODI of the four-match series by six wickets.
The protagonists in UAE's victory were Chundangapoyil Rizwan and Muhammad Usman, who scored their maiden ODI centuries. They came together in the 13th over with UAE struggling at 51 for 3, after which they put on a 184-run stand for the fourth wicket. By the time the partnership was broken in the 46th over, UAE were only 35 runs away from victory, which they eventually completed with one over to spare.
The chase had begun with Ireland quick Barry McCarthy (2-60) removing UAE openers Zafar Farid (15) and Vrittya Aravind (14) after which Curtis Campher (2-31) found Alishan Sharafu's outside edge, giving Ireland the early advantage in the second innings. Rizwan - still under 10 ODIs old - and the experienced Usman swung things UAE's way, batting together for nearly 33 overs. Rizwan struck nine fours and a six in his 136-ball 109 while Usman's unbeaten 102 came in 107 balls in an innings that had seven fours and three sixes.
When Player-of-the-Match Rizwan fell to Campher in the 46th over courtesy a diving catch from Harry Tector, UAE still needed 35 in 26 balls. But a quickfire unbeaten 10-ball 18 from Waheed Ahmed helped Usman navigate through a tricky final few overs and seal victory.
Ireland, who won the toss and chose to bat, had made 269 for 5 on the back of opener Stirling's third-highest ODI tally of 131 not out. His innings of nine fours and four sixes held up one end as he batted 148 deliveries. Ireland had begun with a 39-run opening stand between Stirling and Kevin O'Brien (23). After that, the captain Andy Balbirnie struck a 61-ball 53 in a 102-run partnership with Stirling for the second wicket.
A brief middle-order wobble, however, then saw Ireland go from 141 for 1 to 159 for 4 courtesy a double-wicket blow from Rohan Mustafa. Mustafa then caught Campher for 24 in the 44th over, but a 15-ball cameo of 21 from Gareth Delany and three sixes in the death overs from Stirling took them to 269 with five wickets in the bag.
Stirling 131* in vain as Usman, Rizwan centuries take UAE past Ireland in 1st ODI
Rizwan and Usman struck their maiden ODI hundreds while sharing a 184-run stand in UAE's chase