Basil Hameed
UAE all-rounder Basil Hameed celebrates after reaching his half-century against Hong Kong in Nepal on Thursday. Image Credit: Source: ECB

Dubai: The UAE moved a step closer to book their place in next year’s Twenty20 World Cup as the team is brimming with confidence ahead of the semi-finals tie against hosts Nepal in the Twenty20 World Cup Asian Qualifier Final on Friday.

All-rounder Basil Hameed said the team was prepared for the crucial match and is confident of putting up a good show. On Thursday, Hameed’s half-century helped the UAE score 176 for six in 20 overs. The visitors then restricted Hong Kong to 154 for eight to maintain a clean record in the eight-team tournament. All-rounder Ali Naseer once again shone with the ball, claiming two wickets while veteran pacer Zahoor Khan also grabbed two.

The UAE took the top spot in Group B with six points followed by Bahrain with two. Oman topped Group A with six points followed by Nepal with four.

Winning habit

“As a team, it’s important to have a winning habit and at the same time we are aware that there is no scope for relaxing as Nepal is a very strong side,” said Hameed, who scored 51 and put on a match-winning 76-run partnership for the fifth wicket with the UAE Under-19 captain Alishan Sharafu.

The UAE enter the semi-finals on a high on the back of a win against Nepal last week in the tri-series final, but the all-rounder is still guarded in his approach while exuding confidence. The UAE had defeated Oman in last final to book their place in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in 2022 and they are aiming to repeat that feat, but are looking to take one step at a time. It’s a creditable performance for the UAE, who are a mix of youth and experience in equal measure.

“It’s been a week now after winning the final, but it was a close match. We definitely will take some confidence and at the same time we cannot be complacent. We have to be on top of our game as Nepal are one side who have been playing well for the past six months. So we have to be on top of our game to win the match tomorrow (Friday) and then look at winning the championship,” added the 31-year-old from Kerala.

UAE teenager Ali Naseer continued to excel in the Twenty20 World Cup Asian Qualifier Final. He finished with a two-wicket haul against Hong Kong. Image Credit: Source: ECB

Learning from younger lot

This performance is even more sweeter for Hameed, who had to alter his game and adopt a new strategy to overcome his hand injury. The all-rounder suffered a cut in the webbing of the right hand and the sutures are still not been absorbed completely.

Hameed is happy to guide the young brigade, with several partnerships with Sharafu and teenagers Ali Naseer and Aayan Afzal Khan. But he feels the exchange of ideas is not just one way.

“The idea was to stay on for a longer time and run well between the wickets as I have certain limitations due to the injury. It’s paying off and happy that I am able to contribute to the team’s favour,” Hameed said. “There are so many things one can learn from Alishan, Ali Naseer and Aayan. I have the game awareness, but skill-sets I have adapted from them, like the six-hitting capabilities. Alishan’s mis-hit could go over the ropes. So I go to India and train hard to improve my power-hitting capabilities.”