UAE celebration
The UAE have been flying high in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers after beating Nepal in the semi-finals and booking a spot for the finals in Australia. Image Credit: Courtesy: ICC

Dubai: Dubai: UAE’s young hero Vriitya Aravind feels the hard work the team have put in over the last six months has paid rich dividends after qualifying for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year.

“The main goal for the past six months was to qualify for the World Cup and all the hard work put in by everyone is reflecting on the performance of the team,” the 19-year-old star told Gulf News after the 68-run win over Nepal in the semi-finals of the qualifiers at Al Ameerat in Oman on Tuesday.

Skipper Ahmed Raza produced a crucial five-wicket haul to restrict Nepal 107 after Junaid Siddique gave UAE a good start with early wickets. The UAE will face Ireland in the final on Thursday.

Aravind, the poster boy UAE after his knocks of 97 not out, 40, 84 not out in the last three innings, continued with his blazing display. A whirlwind knock of 46 off 23 set the tone for his team’s impressive total after electing to bat first after UAE opener Muhammad Waseem set the platform with a quick-fire 70.

Different approach to batting

This knock against Nepal was in stark contrast to the 97 not out he had scored against Ireland in the opener. Explaining the two different knocks, Aravind said: “That game [against Ireland] we had lost two quick wickets. So I knew I had to bat till the end. The last three overs we could accelerate and got 40-45 runs.

“Today I went in early and could play more freely. My natural game is to play fearless cricket,” Aravind added. “I adapt and play according to the demands of the situation,” he said that shows the maturity far beyond his age.

Vriitya Aravind
Vriitya Aravind played a quickfire knock that propelled the UAE to an imposing total against Nepal in the semi-finals on Tuesday. Image Credit: Courtesy: VK Shafeer

The last time UAE made it to the global showpiece event was in 2014. For Ireland, the only Full Member nation in Qualifier A, it will be their seventh appearance at the global showpiece event.

The UAE has been having a phenomenal run with the women’s team making it to the global qualifiers, the under-19 team clinching the Plate title in the Under-19 World Cup and now the senior men’s team qualifying for the World Cup finals in Australia.

Coach Robin Singh said he was elated with the performance and thanked Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board and all the staff who have worked towards the success of the UAE team.

Robin Singh, UAE coach

Talking about the wonderful run, Robin said: “Guys stepped up really well today. Vriitya was outstanding and played exceptionally well for his age. The bowling unit also did well with Junaid setting the tone with first two wickets and Ahmed completing it with five wickets. A total team effort, brilliant truly.”

UAE and Ireland took the 13th and 14th spots for the tournament in Australia later this year, with the last two places to be decided at the Qualifier B in July. Chasing an imposing victory target of 176, Nepal were rocked by the early strikes of UAE pacer Siddique.

The quick, was in top gear, removing the top-three Nepal batters in his three-over spell. A sensational opening over saw Siddique sending back opener Aasif Sheikh and one-down batter Lokesh Bam off two successive balls. Nepal were 3-2 in six balls and the chase looked a tall order.

Ahmed Raza
UAE skipper Ahmed Raza receiving the player of the match award for his five-wicket haul. Image Credit: Courtesy: VK Shafeer

Siddique then took the prize scalp of Nepal’s in-form batter Kushal Bhurtel in his second over. UAE skipper Raza’s double-strike in the 13th over extinguished whatever hopes Nepal had as they were down to 83-6.

Raza, who bagged the player of the match award for his five-wicket haul said: “It is a very emotional feeling. To lead the team to the Men’s T20 World Cup after six looming years. I fail to express in words the delight of playing a lead role in achieving our goal to qualify.

Ireland end Oman's hopes

"It means a lot to us. It has been a difficult journey since missing out in 2019. We are blessed to have a talented bunch of youngsters and Vriitya has proved it as the player of the tournament. Qualifying for the Men’s T20 World Cup was an obsession for our team and glad that we could do it. It was one of those days when everything clicked for us. It was one complete performance.”

In the second semi-final, Ireland ended the hopes of Oman with a 56-run win. Put in to bat first, Ireland posted a total of 165 for seven with Gareth Delany top-scoring with a masterfully constructed 32-ball 47. Bilal was Oman’s star performer with the ball, ending the day with figures of 3/23. In response, Oman were bowled out for 109 in 18.3 overs. Shoaib Khan was the top scorer with 30.