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Aayan Khan celebrates after guiding UAE to victory over Namibia during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup League 2 match on Thursday. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

Dubai: Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference and it becomes even more critical in a low-scoring thriller, which UAE won by one wicket against Namibia in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 match at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.

All-rounder Aayan Khan was the architect of UAE’s win, scoring an unbeaten 35 that included a six and a four in the company of last-man Zahoor Khan. The UAE teenager credits his senior partner for giving him the confidence, apart from his title-winning stint with Gulf Giants in the inaugural DP World International Twenty20 League last month.

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Aayan Khan receives the Player of the Match award. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

Crucial win

“Zahoor told me, ‘I won’t get out, Just believe in me’ and he kept repeating those words every ball. That helped me to hold my nerve and play those two shots that helped us win the game,” Aayan Khan told Gulf News, unable to hide his excitement.

Why should he? After giving UAE the crucial win to keep their hopes alive for a place in the ICC 50-over World Cup, to be held in India later this year.

“Playing ILT20 with superstars and being part of the winning Gulf Giants team taught me how to handle the pressure and how to make my team win. That experience was really important for me to play this knock against Namibia,” he added. “I feel really good to make my team win. My parents’ efforts have paid dividends. It was hard to play in the middle, but somehow we managed to chase the small target.”

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UAE players celebrate a wicket against Namibia. The hosts dismissed Namibia to 91. Image Credit: Source: ECB Twitter

Early wickets

Put in to bat Namibia were in deep trouble at 69 for nine with just two double-digit scores from the top six batters. Zahoor, Aayan claimed three wickets each and leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, who bagged a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last year, reproduced a similar spell to claim a three-wicket haul for just 16 runs in his 3.1 overs.

The toss proved crucial as the early moisture on the wicket helped the UAE bowlers to seam, swing and spin the ball and trouble the visitors. Meiyappan ended the innings of Namibia’s top-scorer Ruben Trumpelmann, the No 9 batter scoring 30 off 41 balls to add 22 invaluable runs for the last wicket to take the total to 91 in 31.1 overs.

Good fight

Despite the wicket becoming better in the second innings, UAE, after a reasonable start of 21, lost their way and kept losing wickets. “Credit to Namibia, who fought well and fielded well. So they put us under lot of pressure,” Aayan said.

However, the strong batters let UAE down before the teenager showed plenty of patience to pull the hosts out of trouble.

“Some of the experience gained from the ILT20 has rubbed off during the Twenty20 clashes against Afghanistan. Importantly, it’s a 50-over game and you need to reset and understand that you need to bat accordingly. I am not worried about bowling, but batting needs to step up,” Robin Singh, Emirates Cricket’s Director of Cricket and Head Coach, had felt before the start of the match. His fears have come true and after this lung-opener, the hosts’ batting should be ready for the next challenge on Saturday.