UAE finish with happy memories

Despite the regret, despite the winless record, despite the obvious disparities between them and the rest, UAE will leave the World Cup having had a good time

2 August 2001: Coca-Cola Cup (Sri Lanka) 2001, 9th Match, India v New Zealand, Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo

'Most hostile bowling we faced in the tournament' - Tauqir  •  Leo de Lisle/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Inevitably, Ireland was going to be on the minds of cricketers in Napier on Sunday but unlike West Indies, whose qualification for the quarterfinals could have hinged on the outcome of Ireland's game, UAE were thinking of them for another reason.
"There was a catch off Kevin O'Brien... if we'd taken that, we'd have won that game," Mohammad Tauqir said.
Although that match took place two-and-a-half weeks ago, its memories are foremost in Tauqir's mind when he was asked what stood out for him about his team at this World Cup. In one word: regret.
O'Brien was on 24 at the time and went on to score 50 in what turned out to be a tense chase. Before that, UAE had dislodged Ed Joyce's off bail and had the LED lights flashing to prove it, but it had fallen back into place. Then they dropped Joyce as well.
In losing that game, one of only two they really had the opportunity to win, UAE's returns were guaranteed to be disappointing before they met the big teams. In those games, UAE have been content to run their own race.
Damage limitation with ball in hand and perseverance with bat was what they after; not conceding 400, batting out 50 overs. That they got close to those things has allowed Tauqir to leave somewhat satisfied, albeit unsuccessful.
"In bits and pieces, we did well," he said. "Overall, our bowling was consistent but there are little bits of our fielding and batting that needs improvement. Our batting department is not as consistent as it should have been. It was satisfactory but we know we could have done better than this."
UAE needed the lower middle-order to bail them out in Napier, against a West Indian attack that took advantage of early assistance and lessons from the way the South African attack used the short ball to cause a collapse. In Wellington, Tauqir admitted to being "shocked" by the hostility of the South Africans, this time he had to admit his line-up still could not stand up to the barrage even though they had the experience of standing up to the likes of Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
"That was the most hostile bowling we had faced but at the same time, I very thankful to the South Africans for bowling the way they did. It gave us a lot of confidence," he said. "Today, our batters could not cope with that fast bowling but then it was a good recovery. That partnership was amazing and saved us a lot of embarrassment."
In the end, that is what those departing the tournament at this stage will be judged on - whether they are leaving red-faced or not. UAE are not. In their ranks is the highest Associate run-scorer, Shaiman Anwar, two of the best seventh-wicket stands in the tournament's history and a bowler, Mohammad Naveed, who has taken the same number of wickets as Mohammad Irfan - eight.
They also have the oldest player in the tournament, Khurram Khan, who is 43. Tauqir is the same age and there are questions over the pair's future, especially since UAE may not appear at another 50-over event before they end their careers. But like so many players who are thought be nearing the twilight years, Tauqir brushed off suggestions of calling it a day just yet.
"Both Khurram and I have done a lot of hard work and preparation for this tournament and I feel pretty fit," he said. "I would like to continue playing as long as I am enjoying it."
For now, despite the regret, despite the winless record, despite the obvious disparities between them and the rest, UAE will leave having had a good time. "It would have been very good if we had won one or two but we enjoyed the whole tournament," Tauqir said. And it enjoyed having you.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent