Muhammad Waseem
UAE opener Muhammad Waseem celebrates his century in the final of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup qualifier against Ireland at Al Ameerat in Oman on Thursday. Image Credit: Courtesy: Shreyas Kankal

Dubai: UAE opener Muhammad Waseem proved that he has the “right temperament to play under pressure” by scoring a rampaging century in the final of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers against Ireland at Al Ameerat on Thursday.

Waseem saved the best for the last to help UAE chase down a tricky target and guide his team to a seven-wicket victory over Test-playing nation Ireland and then thanked the team management faith that they had in his abilities.

“My team and my coaches are always backing me up if I’m scoring or even if I’m not scoring. My coach and captain told me that if I play the full innings I can definitely make some runs and that proved right,” said the 28-year-old Waseem, who was adjudged player of the final for his 66-ball 112.

Chasing a target of 160, UAE were in a spot of bother at 12 for two when former skipper Rohan Mustafa joined Waseem to arrest the slide. UAE, needing almost 100 runs in the last 10 overs, reached the target with eight balls to spare despite Waseem losing his wicket when the team was seven runs away. Mustafa, who remained unbeaten on 37, ensured UAE extend their dominance over Ireland, recording their fifth win on the trot. UAE’s winning streak began in October 2021 in Dubai.

Ahmed Raza
UAE skipper Ahmed Raza receives the trophy after winning the Qualifier A for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup. Image Credit: Courtesy: Shreyas Kankal

UAE coach Robin Singh, speaking to Gulf News from Oman after winning the title, hailed Waseem’s knock and his outstanding shot-making capabilities. “It’s a terrific knock, coming under pressure. Couldn’t have asked more from him. He has the right temperament to score in any tournament or any situation. He can pull us out from any situation with his numerous shots. If he gives himself some time, he can take on any bowling,” Robin Singh said, reiterating Waseem’s statement.

Teen Aravind adjudged best

The young UAE batter Vriitya Aravind feels happy with the team winning the title, despite him suffering a rare failure in the final. After scores of 97 not out, 40, 84 not out and 46, the teenager was out off the first ball for a duck against Ireland.

“I don’t mind that I didn’t score today. The team won and we qualified for the T20 World Cup, so can’t ask for more. Every senior player over here has supported not just me but all the youngsters. That is where we get the confidence to perform, so all thanks to them,” Aravind said after receiving the player of the tournament award.

Speaking about Aravind’s contribution to the team’s cause, skipper Ahmed Raza, who was instrumental in UAE winning the semi-finals against Nepal, said: “Vriitya [Aravind] is a special kid. I have run out of superlatives for him. Because of him we are here as champions. We lost that game against Bahrain but we could have lost our place in the tournament as well so all thanks to him.

“This side is special. We have gelled well over the past six months and it was really hurtful when the World Cup was happening back home and we weren’t a part of it. We spoke about not letting such an opportunity pass us by. The players showed a lot of character throughout the tournament. Different players put their hands up when the chips were down and today it was Waseem.”

Long way to go

Has the UAE achieved its mission?

“We came here to qualify and we achieved it. So one mission done, but still a long way to go,” Robin Singh said. “This is only the first stage of the tournament, we need to do much better than we did here to reach the next stage of the Twenty20 World Cup. The team needs to undergo a lot of preparation and training before that.”

UAE’s victory confirmed their spot in Group 1 of the first round in Australia. They join Sri Lanka and Namibia and will be joined by runners-up in Qualifier B that will be played in Zimbabwe in June.

Ireland join West Indies and Scotland in Group 2 of the first round. They will be joined by the Qualifier B winner, which will be held in June in Zimbabwe.

Over to mission Australia for the UAE team.