Dubai: Disappointing. UAE coach Mudassar Nazar summed up the team’s feeling after losing to hosts Nepal in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup Asian Qualifier Final in Kathmandu on Friday.
A win in the semi-finals would have given UAE a place in the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and USA. UAE entered the contest on a confident note after defeating Nepal in the final of the tri-series last week.
But against an experienced side, UAE came up short in the semi-finals after posting 134 for nine in 20 overs. Dependable Vriitya Aravind waged a lone battle to score almost half of the team’s runs, without much support from the rest. Left-arm spinner Kushal Malla was the main wicket-taker with three while the experienced leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane grabbed the two crucial wickets of the dangerous Asif Khan and the in-form Basil Hameed.
Nepal were better than us, today
“The boys have worked hard and had won four games on the trot, including one against hosts Nepal in the tri-series final last week. Today they were better than us. Our batters made good starts, but none capitalised on it, except Vriitya. We were 20-25 runs short, which made life easy for Nepal,” rued the former Pakistan opener and UAE’s interim coach.
Nepal chased the under-par target with ease. Opener Aasif Sheikh remained unbeaten on 64 along with skipper Rohit Paudel 34 when the hosts romped home with eight wickets to spare to send the packed stadium into a jubilant celebration. The win helped Nepal clinch the World Cup spot along with Oman, who defeated Bahrain by 10 wickets in the other semi-finals.
The UAE with a mix of youth and experience, had been able to handle the pressure in the earlier games, but in a high-stakes clash, they succumbed to the nerves as none of the five youngsters in the team could make a valuable contribution with the bat.
Early wickets key
“We are in a transitional phase and lot of players have been blooded into the side recently. So it will take time for them to mature. So when you play against such mature and settled side like Nepal, things could become difficult,” added Nazar, who identified a few areas where the team went wrong and need rectification going forward.
“We need to learn from the mistakes and convert the starts into big scores. We need to try to pick up wickets with the new ball, which we don’t always do.”
Nepal and Oman join hosts West Indies and USA along with Australia, India, England, New Zealand, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, European qualifiers — Ireland and Scotland and East Asia-Pacific qualifiers Papua New Guinea and Canada in the expanded 20-team Twenty20 World Cup 2024. Two teams from Africa qualifier will complete the line-up.