Dubai: The UAE have been having a roller-coaster ride in the Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 and skipper Muhammad Waseem once again gave his team a morale-boosting win against Papua New Guinea in their penultimate match in Nepal on Wednesday.
Chasing a tricky target, Waseem, who loves to showcase his big-match temperament, pulled his weight to score his maiden century in ODIs and guide UAE to a comfortable six-wicket win over PNG in Kirtipur.
Talking about his knock, the newly appointed UAE skipper told the ECB social media handle: “I am happy that my prayers have been answered to score my maiden century in ODIs.”
UAE medium-pacer Hazrat Bilal produced an incisive spell to grab four wickets, while veteran all-rounder Rohan Mustafa, who gave the breakthrough, and Zawar Farid also chipped in with one wicket each to reduce Nepal to 234 for seven in 50 overs.
Incidentally, it was also the PNG skipper Assad Vala, who top-scored for his team with a patient 65. Things could have been worse for PNG, but late order batters Norman Vanua, who remained unbeaten on 49, and Riley Hekure (33) put on a 72-run seventh wicket partnership in 45 balls that gave PNG a decent score to put up a fight.
Waseem and Vriitya Aravind negated PNG’s early gains with a 125-run second-wicket partnership that virtually sealed the match in UAE’s favour. Another veteran batter CP Rizwan and teenager Aayan Khan also chipped in with useful knocks to take the team home.
Cause for worry
The UAE finally played true to their potential, but Robin Singh, Director of Cricket at Emirates Cricket Board, feels batting is still a cause for worry as they take on Nepal in their final game on Thursday. The UAE could have been in a better position in the league table if they had not suffered four straight losses against PNG and Nepal at both home and away.
“Waseem played exceptionally. A long-awaited first hundred in ODIs. Bilal bowled very well and these are the two standout performances. Waseem is an exceptional player and he is literally the backbone of UAE batting,” Robin Singh, who was wary of the UAE’s batting potential at the start of both the tri-series against the same opponents, told Gulf News.
It's not T20 cricket
“Batting continues to be a worry. The players need to lift their games and play with more responsibility, only then things could improve. It is not T20 cricket,” cautioned the former Indian all-rounder ahead of the final match against the hosts.
However, skipper Waseem, who won the best UAE player award in the recently concluded ILT20, is optimistic about Thursday’s performance. “We need to reproduce the same against Nepal and hope to progress in the tournament.”