Dubai: A buoyant UAE open their campaign against Canada in the ICC Under-19 World Cup at Bloemfontein ground in South Africa on Saturday after recording two impressive victories in the warm-up matches against New Zealand and Japan.
UAE’s 15-year-old promising player Kai Smith cracked a century against Japan to grab the eyeballs.
Their stunning victory over Test playing nation New Zealand and their impressive 253-run win over Japan has made their opponents in their group like Canada, Afghanistan and hosts South Africa sit up and take note.
In the second warm-up tie against Japan at Braamfischer Oval ground in Soweto, the UAE displayed their strong batting strength by posting 382 for six in 50 overs. UAE’s Smith cracked an unbeaten 102, while opener Vriitya Aravind missed his century by two runs. Smith, who is of South African origin, had impressed everyone with his skills to earn a selection to the team at an early age despite turning 15 only 50 days ago.
Japan got restricted to 129 in 42 overs through Aryan Lakra’s deadly four-wicket haul for 15 runs, backed by Farazuddin with two wickets for 12 runs.
The UAE’s second match will be against Afghanistan on January 22 followed by their final group match on January 25. UAE captain Lakra, before departure, had told Gulf News that his team will be aiming to catch stronger opponents by surprise. The win over New Zealand was possible due to Lakra and Anand, who set the stage for victory through a splendid opening partnership of 92 runs in 22.2 overs after New Zealand were restricted to 217 for 9. UAE proved that they have batting strength down the order too with Muhammad Farazuddin hitting a brilliant unbeaten 37 off 18 balls and put on a 31-run partnership for the last wicket with Chathiyan Dashan (three not out).
Farazuddin hit the third ball of the last over for a six to pull off the victory.