Kolkata: UAE sent out a major statement of intent when in their first competitive match in 11 months, they shocked ICC Test playing nation Ireland by six wickets in the first of their four-match ODI series in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
A 184-run stand between the two centurions of the hosts, Chundangapoyil Rizwan (109) and Mohammad Usman (102 not out) reflected a calmness and maturity as they chased down a challenging total of 269 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium with one over remaining. The expectations of this UAE team, who are deprived of playing quality opposition regularly in 50-over formats and are fed largely on T20 contests, will certainly rise for the remaining three games.
Ireland, who had subjected England to their only defeat before Eoin Morgan’s side went on to win the ICC World Cup in 2019, rode on experienced opener Paul Stirling’s unbeaten 131 as they opted to bat with the aim of putting pressure on a somewhat new-look UAE batting line-up. Stirling smashed nine fours and four sixes in his 148-ball effort even as the home team spinners did a good job of restricting the rival middle order from notching up a 300-plus total.
Rohan Mustafa, a former UAE skipper himself, had the best figures of two for 43 while skipper Ahmed Raza and young leg spinner Karthik Meiyappan also kept the run-flow in check.
The UAE camp received an unexpected blow on the eve of the match when two players: vice-captain Chirag Suri and Aryan Lakra tested positive for coronavirus, according to a Emirates Cricket Board communique.
“Emirates Cricket Board confirm that Chirag Suri, UAE Vice Captain, and Aryan Lakra have returned Positive Covid19 tests. Both players are currently in isolation, are being monitored and are in good health,” the statement read.
The absence of Suri at the top order meant that UAE started the chase with Zawar Farid and young Vriitya Aravind. Both fell to paceman Barry McCarthy and with number four batsman Alishan Sharafu falling for one, the UAE were reduced to 51 for three with the experienced Irish bowling line-up having their tails up.
However, Man of the Match Chundangapoyil Rizwan and Usman had other ideas. They kept the scoreboard ticking by picking up the odd boundaries and when Rizwan finally left with the team score at 235 for four, the UAE were already in sight of an improbable win. Rizan’s innings came off 136 deliveries, with nine boundaries and a six while Usman’s unbeaten effort came from 107 balls, seven fours and three sixes.
P. Stirling Not Out 131
K. O’Brien b Daud 23
A. Balbirnie c Aravind b Ahmed Raza 53
H. Tector lbw Mustafa 6
L. Tucker b Mustafa 4
C. Campher c Mustafa b Meiyappan 24
G. Delany Not Out 21
Extras 0b 1lb 0nb 0pen 6w 7b
Total (50.0 overs) 269-5
Fall of Wickets : 1-39 O’Brien, 2-141 Balbirnie, 3-153 Tector, 4-159 Tucker, 5-208 Campher
Bowling: Zahoor Khan 8 0 53 0; Daud 10 0 56 1; Raza 10 0 46 1; Mustafa 10 1 43 2; Meiyappan 10 0 60 1; Ahmed 2 0 10 0.
United Arab Emirates
Z. Farid c Tucker b McCarthy 15
V. Aravind c (Sub) b McCarthy 14
CP Rizwan c Tector b Campher 109
A. Sharafu c Tucker b Campher 1
M. Usman Not Out 102
W. Ahmed Not Out 18
Extras 0b 0lb 1nb 0pen 10w 11
Total (49.0 overs) 0-0
Fall of Wickets : 1-18, 2-38, 3-51, 4-235
Bowling: Young 9 0 57 0; McCarthy 10 1 60 2; Campher 10 0 31 2; McBrine 9 0 49 0; Adair 8 0 48 0; Delany 3 0 25 0.