Muhammad Waseem powers UAE to glory in qualifier final against Ireland
Fifth straight win over Test opponents seals the spoils in final in Oman
UAE 160 for 3 (Waseem 112) beat Ireland 159 (Tector 50, Zahoor 3-29, Rohan 3-30) by seven wickets
UAE's uncanny run of dominance over Ireland has now extended to five straight T20Is, and their third win in the last 12 days against the Test nation, as the top-ranked Associate rode Muhammad Waseem's second T20I century to a seven-wicket win in the final of the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier A tournament in Oman. Just like Waseem's first maiden ton in October, it came in a successful chase against Ireland.
Despite the loss, Ireland can take solace in the fact that they, along with UAE, had already secured their T20 World Cup berth by virtue of having made this final.
Pursuing a target of 160, UAE stumbled early in their reply as Chirag Suri and Vriitya Aravind fell in the space of three balls to Josh Little, each time pulling to Simi Singh at deep square leg, to make it 12 for 2 in the fourth over. Waseem should have been out for 10 off 20 balls from the first ball after the Powerplay, bowled by Barry McCarthy, but Shane Getkate lost his bearings and stepped over the boundary rope while taking a catch at deep backward square that turned a wicket into six.
The close shave sprang Waseem into life and afterwards he took charge, serving as the aggressor in a historic 141-run partnership with Rohan Mustafa, UAE's highest stand for any wicket in T20Is. He brought up his half-century off 38 balls during an assault on Gareth Delany's legspin in the 12th over, smashing a pair of half-trackers over midwicket for six and four. It took him just 21 more balls to move on to three figures, swatting a full toss from Singh to the leg side boundary before raising his arms aloft. He finally fell seven runs short of the target for 112, chipping a simple catch to Andy Balbirnie at extra cover off Andy McBrine, but not before belting seven fours and eight sixes.
Mustafa, who scored 30 runs alongside Waseem, knocked off the final seven runs to end unbeaten on 37 off 35 balls, clinching victory with eight balls to spare. As Mustafa has proved numerous times over the years to Ireland, he was once again a thorn in the side with ball as well as bat, having taken 3 for 30 in four overs to help set up a chaseable total after Ireland chose to bat first at the toss.
Ireland were struggling at 19 for 3 after Mustafa claimed the wicket of Paul Stirling for 12 to cap a sequence of 3 for 4 which also saw Balbirnie and Delany fall cheaply. After a 43-run stand between Lorcan Tucker and Harry Tector, another mini-slide ensued in the middle order in which Ireland lost 3 for 5 to fall to 67 for 6, one ball past the midway stage of the innings.
However, Tector and Getkate combined for a 55-run stand to keep Ireland alive and then some. Tector eventually ended with a top score of 50, before both he and Getkate fell in the space of five balls to Zahoor Khan, back for a death spell in the 17th. But McCarthy and Mark Adair struck some lusty blows in the final three overs to help Ireland add another 34 to the total. In the end, it was still well short of par on pitches which have been full of runs all tournament long in Oman.
Despite falling for a duck in the final, Vriitya Aravind was named Player of the Tournament at the post-match presentation after ending as the highest scorer in the event with 267 runs at an average of 89.00. His best came in the group stage match against Ireland, in which he scored an unbeaten 97, and finished the tournament 26 runs clear of Waseem in second.
Nepal won the third place play-off over Oman, trouncing the hosts by nine wickets. Six days earlier, on day one of the qualifier, Oman were bowled out for 78, their lowest-ever total in T20Is; now they were held to their second lowest T20I total by the same opponent on Thursday, ending on 87 for 9 after choosing to bat first at the toss.
Nepal captain Sandeep Lamichhane was named player of the match after taking 3 for 13, which moved him past Bahrain's Junaid Aziz to finish as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 12 at an average of 6.50 and an economy of 3.90. Khushal Bhurtel survived a drop at slip on the second ball of the chase to score an unbeaten 55. After adding a 50-run stand with Aasif Sheikh to start the chase, Bhurtel added an unbroken 40-run stand with Aasif's brother Aarif to clinch victory with 22 balls to spare.
Canada won the fifth place play-off over Bahrain by seven wickets, chasing a target of 132 with 33 balls to spare. Canada captain Navneet Dhaliwal dismantled legspinner Aziz for three consecutive sixes to end the 14th over on the way to an unbeaten 54 off 27 balls in the win. Offspinner Harsh Thaker took 4 for 20 to set up the win.
Germany defeated Philippines in the seventh place play-off by nine wickets after stand-in captain Michael Richardson and Justin Broad added an unbroken 114-run partnership for the second wicket, Germany's highest stand for any wicket in T20Is.
The pair came together four balls into a chase of a target of 110 when Talha Khan was given lbw to Huzaifa Mohammed. Both batters were given lives early in their innings but managed to stay to the end. Richardson brought up a half-century first before Broad smashed a six over midwicket with scores level to end 50 not out off 33 balls for his second fifty of the tournament. Philippines were 56 for 0 in the eighth over before a rapid collapse ensued as they ended on 109 for 8.
The last two spots up for grabs in the 2022 T20 World Cup will be decided in Zimbabwe at the eight-team Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier B event in July. Joining the hosts will be Hong Kong, Jersey, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Uganda and USA.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna