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UAE's Muhammad Waseem (left) and Alishan Sharafu celebrate the wicket of Namibia's David Wiese during Group A match at Kardinia Park in Geelong on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: UAE opener Muhammad Waseem starred in UAE’s historic maiden victory in the Twenty20 World Cup after edging out Namibia by seven runs in the last of their Group A contest in Geelong on Thursday.

UAE’s victory has propelled Netherlands along with table-toppers Sri Lanka into the Super 12, which begins on Saturday. The UAE had qualified for the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup and ended at the bottom of the table, losing all three games. But this time they gave a good account of themselves by winning the last match and losing by a whisker against the Netherlands in the opener on Sunday. UAE could have entered the Super 12 instead of Netherlands if they had won that low-scoring match, which they had lost in the penultimate delivery.

Instinctive decision

“It is a great moment for UAE cricket, first ever victory in a World Cup. So I’m really grateful. I would first of all like to thank our coach, Robin [Singh] sir, and our management who kept belief in us. We were doing it in patches, but it was just a matter of time. Today all departments clicked so I’m really happy for the win,” skipper CP Rizwan told the official broadcasters during the prize presentation ceremony.

“[On bowling Waseem at the end] It was instinctive decision because he used to bowl a lot of death bowling in our domestic cricket. I thought since there was a little dew, fast bowler or medium pacer can do the job. So I backed my instinct and he did the job. This win will build momentum going forward for UAE Cricket. We want to grow on this and show world cricket that we are here not just to compete but to make an impact.”

UAE survived a late scare from all-rounder David Wiese’s 55 to secure a narrow win after Waseem slammed a 41-ball fifty while skipper Rizwan hit an unbeaten 43 off 29 deliveries to help UAE make a competitive 148 for three, Namibia were down and out at 67/7 in 13 overs.

Record partnership

That’s when Wiese stepped up to hit three fours and as many sixes in his 36-ball stay at the crease and shared a 70-run stand with Rubel Trumpelmann with the eighth wicket, a record partnership in T20 World Cup history, as dew started to settle in.

But Wasim took out Wiese in the final over and gave away just six runs in the final over to knock Namibia out of the competition and propel the Netherlands to enter Super 12 stage from Group A alongside 2014 champions Sri Lanka.

Important milestone in UAE cricket

Talking about the team’s performance, “It’s amazing. Nothing like winning on the big stage. Considering that we didn’t win the first two games, it’s awesome to finish on a winning note. So this should give us a lot of confidence going forward, especially on the big stage,” Robin Singh, Director of Cricket, Emirates Cricket Board, told Gulf News from Geelong.

“The bowlers were exceptional. Zahoor, Junaid, Aayan, Karthik and Basit all really did well. This how we wanted to play at the start, unfortunately it didn’t happen. We need to get close to 150 on these tracks, we were in a position to get 140 in the first game but again the batting faltered. We have to make a few changes today and it worked,” he added.

“We needed to bat better and we have not been doing that for a while now. If we had batted better in the first game, may be we would have been in the Super 12 now,” he rued the missed chance against Netherlands.

Robin Singh, the former India all-rounder, feels it is a landmark win for UAE.  “It’s an important milestone for the future. Five or six guys made a big impact. CP played exceptionally well today and Basil showed what talent he has. It’s really about people stepping up. Few guys were disappointing and going forward everyone will pick themselves up,” he concluded.

Brief scores:

UAE 148/3 in 20 overs (Muhammad Waseem 50, CP Rizwan 43 not out; Ben Shikongo 1/8, Bernard Scholtz 1/22) beat Namibia 141/8 in 20 overs (David Wiese 55, Rubel Trumpelmann 25 not out; Basil Hameed 2/17, Zahoor Khan 2/20) by seven runs.