Rohan Mustafa
Rohan Mustafa played a battling knock against PNG, scoring most of the runs in 70-run partnership for the last wicket. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: “It’s a day to forget” for UAE after the hosts surrendered meekly to Papua New Guinea by six wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 clash at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

The high-flying hosts ran into deep trouble at 77 for nine after electing to bat on a wicket that had plenty of assistance to the PNG bowlers. Thanks to Rohan Mustafa’s brave knock, who single-handedly took the team’s score to 147 in 50 overs with the last wicket producing 70 invaluable runs.

“It’s a day to forget. We haven’t had this kind of a day for a long time, so we need to move on from it. We have been outplayed by PNG,” said Ahmed Raza, who feels delving deep into this game will break the morale of the team. “It is better to look at the positives in this game, which is a 70-run last wicket partnership and the way Rohan [Mustafa] batted, scoring more than 50 per cent of the team score.”

Satisfying knock

PNG skipper led the chase with an unbeaten 68 to guide his team to victory and also halt UAE from going ahead in the points tally.

Mustafa has been getting starts and has been playing some crucial knocks, however this time too his knock went in vain. But at least the former UAE skipper had vouched to carry on till the end after his knock of 40 against Nepal, which he duly completed against all odds.

“It was a satisfying knock, at least I gave my team a total to fight. Unfortunately, the wicket was very good in the second innings with no turn and seam movement. We didn’t win the match, but this knock has helped me greatly to get my confidence back for the future matches where I will have to bat on these conditions,” said the veteran left-hander, who has now made it a habit to carry the fight with the later order batters.

Give the bowler his due

Skipper Raza also felt that this game has given the team the perfect insight on the approach the batters need to take in future games. According to him, give the bowler his due, especially if it is his day.

“The most important thing to look at is, if someone is having a good day with the ball we need to respect that and not give away three or four wickets in one spell. That’s something we need to recognise as a batting unit,” he said referring to PNG medium-pacer Alei Nao, who claimed four of the first five wickets to fall. “The bowlers are bound to have their day, so once we recognise that, then we need to respect it and play out that spell and ensure that we don’t lose to many wickets. Otherwise we are on the backfoot for 15-20 odd overs and will be hard to comeback.”

The UAE after being down at 16 for five, started their comeback through Mustafa and Basil Hameed. But an unfortunate run out ended the partnership. “We were positive that the partnership will help us to a score between 200-220,” Raza added, while targeting the two points on offer against Nepal at the same venue on Monday.

Brief scores:

PNG beat UAE by six wickets. UAE 147 in 50 overs (Rohan Mustafa 88, Basil Hameed 20, Alei Nao 4/27, Chad Soper 3/15, Riley Hekure 2/29) PNG 150/4 in 36.2 overs (Assad Vala 68 not out, Charles Amini 36). Player of the match: Alei Nao.