Abu Dhabi: Skipper Rohan Mustafa and youngster Chirag Suri stood tall for the UAE in the ICC World Cup qualifiers against Netherlands in Harare on Thursday.
On the eve of the encounter against Netherlands, speaking to Gulf News, Mustafa had asserted how important it was for him to do well as a leader. “As a captain if I can lead from front, nothing like it and I will be looking to do that,” Mustafa had said.
While he lived up to it, it was not with the willow but with the cherry that reaffirmed his conviction. The UAE, riding on Mustafa’s five-wicket haul and an unbeaten knock of 78 from Suri, registered an all-important win by six wickets against Netherlands.
Bowling his off-breaks on a wicket that assisted spin, Mustafa trapped Netherlands in his spin web with figures of five for 26 from 9.3 overs and was also involved in a crucial run out to skittle the orange brigade for a modest total of 176 in 46.3 overs.
Mustafa, who bowls right handed and bats left-handed, failed while opening the innings in the UAE’s run chase. His team was in a spot of bother for a brief period after losing three wickets for the addition of just 14 runs and were reduced to 84 for four.
However, Suri, who started off with Mustafa, remained undeterred and showed tremendous maturity to hold the innings together from one end.
In his second ODI, Suri reached his maiden 50 in 93 deliveries. He was involved in a vital unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 93 with Muhammad Usman (36 not out off 47 balls) as UAE reached the target with 36 balls to spare.
Earlier, Netherlands, taking the first share of the crease, made a slow but steady start to their innings. Openers Wesley Barresi and Max O’Dowd added 52 runs for the opening partnership in just little over 10 overs.
The breakthrough for UAE came in Mustafa’s second over — an over-cautious O’Dowd trapped leg before for 12. However, what dented Netherlands’ surge were the two run-outs that followed in quick succession. A horrible mix-up ended Ben Cooper’s innings on 1 with Mustafa completing the formality. Barresi was also found short of his crease by Suri for 37 and Netherlands were reduced to 67 for 3 in the 16th over. A pumped-up skipper Mustafa further reduced Netherlands to 82 for 4 with Mustafa getting rid of his opposite number Peter Borren for eight.
The experienced pair of Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe put together a 33-run stand for the fifth wicket. However, they were in further trouble after ten Doeschate (34) decided to step out and hoick Ahmed Raza and ended up finding Amir Hayat at long-off. Mustafa then got through the defences of Van der Merwe and the Netherlands scoreboard read 138 for 6.
With Mustafa claiming the last two wickets of Pieter Seelaar and Vivian Kingma quickly, Netherlands couldn’t bat through their full quota of overs.