Vriitya Aravind
UAE's No 3 batter Vriitya Aravind played his aggressive game to score a century and extend his purple patch in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 against Namibia in Sharjah on Saturday. Image Credit: Gulf News Achives

Sharjah: UAE, after two narrow losses against Oman, made a big turnaround to play to their true potential to outwit Namibia in the in the final match of ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 tri-series at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

“Obviously change of venue helped us all. We are far more familiar with Sharjah conditions as so many of us grew up on that ground, that helped us. It was a very good wicket and the batters took their chances. It’s pleasing to see that we posted a good total,” said UAE skipper Ahmed Raza after the morale-boosting 43-run win that ticked all the boxes before the next series in a few days’ time.

The UAE openers Chirag Suri and Muhammad Waseem, who was the key scorer in the Twenty20 Qualifier final against Ireland last month in Oman, took the onus on them and set the platform with a 151-run partnership. Once that partnership was broken, young Vriitya Aravind, the player of the tournament in Oman, started playing his natural game and boosted the total to 348 for three and restricted Namibia to 305 for nine in the 50-over contest.

Ahmed Raza, UAE skipper

“Namibia were in the game until the 40th over. Williams and Smit played very good knocks. It was a good wicket and bowling on that surface was not easy. I am happy that our bowlers, both pacers and spinners bowled tight lines,” added Raza. “Everyone talks about batting partnerships, but bowling partnerships are so crucial. That’s how we bowled today, in tandem, in partnerships, which brought the team the success.”

Joint-second spot

The victory has now moved UAE to joint-second spot with Scotland on 16 points. However, the host have played two extra games than Scotland.

After the second loss against Oman, Raza highlighted the importance of scoring big, especially after getting the starts. Both Suri and Aravind carried their innings long to score a century each.

Talking about his knock, Aravind said: “The openers gave a good start which means that I could play freely. That was the difference as I was getting in the first 10 overs in the previous three games. I was seeing the ball well in the last three games, but I got out to my own mistakes. Today I rectified,” said the 19-year-old with a maturity of a seasoned player.

Commendable knock

Skipper Raza also highlighted the importance of Waseem’s knock. “I am really proud of Waseem, the way he batted today. This is first One-Day International half-century. We know what he could do in T20, but the pace at which he scored against Namibia was really commendable.”

Raza felt the losses against Oman was a good learning curve for the team, which made them to iron out a few issues as they move forward.

Chirag Suri
Chirag Suri, after a few near misses in recent times, went on to score a century against Namibia. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

“Namibia are close contestants with us. So it’s really important to win that game. We have addressed the areas we need to work on and it will definitely keep all of us in check when we play against PNG and Nepal.”

Opener Suri, who must have heaved a sigh of relief after coming close to the three-figure mark on a few occasions, felt fatigue could be the reason behind him not going on to get bigger scores.

“Playing back to back 50-over games takes its toll on the body. It’s not about the skills once you get the start, it comes down to fitness. Moving forward, it is important to get fitter as a team, that’s the key,” Suri said.

After playing non-stop in early February, the UAE will now have a three-day break before they embark on the next tri-series against PNG and Nepal, starting in Sharjah on March 15.

Brief scores:

UAE beat Namibia by 43 runs. UAE 348/3 in 50 overs (Chirag Suri 103, Muhammad Waseem 78, Vriitya Aravind 115 not out, Kashif Daud 30 not out) Namibia 305/9 in 50 overs (Craig Williams 79, Michael van Lingen 27, JJ Smit 47, Ruben Trumpelmann 28, Jan Frylinck 42, Ahmed Raza 3/60). Player of the match: Vriitya Aravind.