Alishan new
Alishan Sharafu played a stunning knock to guide UAE to a seven-wicket win over Kuwait in the ACC Premier Cup on Friday. Image Credit: ECB X

Dubai: Young Alishan Sharafu is not new to international arena and knows how to handle the pressure. The former Under-19 captain has led the UAE to victory in the Under-19 World Cup final against Ireland in 2022 after defeating the West Indies in the semi-finals. But moving up the grade, he could not reproduce the same results and was in and out of the senior team.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

The opener on Friday announced the world that he is ready to carry the team on his shoulders with a battling unbeaten 90 to give the UAE a winning start in the CC Premier Cup Group B opener at Al Amerat ground in Oman. Two down with no runs on the board and the loss of dependable opener and skipper Muhammad Waseem put the UAE in perilous position while chasing a target of 179 in the Twenty20 tournament, which is the qualifiers for the next Asia Cup.

Read more

In the company of veteran Asif Khan, who made an unbeaten 74, the UAE eased to a seven-wicket win.

“It’s good to see Alishan bat like a matured player. That’s what we have been working on in the camp as well. The set batters will have to bat through the innings and that’s the plan and that’s what he did. From zero for two, it is pleasing to see Alishan and senior player Asif take the team over the line. It showed their maturity and ensured that they remained unbeaten till the end, which is a good sign,” UAE coach Lalchand Rajput told Gulf News from Oman.

asif new
Veteran Asif Khan celebrates after reaching his half-century against Kuwait. Image Credit: Source: ECB X

Scoring century not the priority

The victory sets off a perfect start to UAE’s campaign in booking the lone spot in the Asia Cup, where the winners from this 10-team tournament will join the continental elite.

Alishan and debutant Vishnu Sukumaran arrested the slide after losing two wickets off the first two balls to take the team to 26. But the third wicket didn’t deter Alishan to keep scoring at a good pace in the company of Asif. They put on an unbroken 153-run fourth wicket partnership to win with 15 balls to spare.

“When Asif came on, we had a bit of a chat and I told him to take a bit of a time to get himself in, while I tried to put the bad balls away from the other end. Our plan was to just try and stick in, try and build a partnership and bat as deep as possible. And once we both got set, things felt a lot easier,” said the 21-year-old Alishan, who missed the chance to become the third UAE batter to score a century in the shortest format. “Scoring a century was not the priority. The main goal was to get the team over the line, and I’m glad it happened and we could start on a winning note.”

UAE all-rounder Basil Hameed celebrates one of his three wickets with teammates in Oman. Image Credit: Source: ECB X

Brisk start for Kuwait

Put in to bat first, Kuwait had a much better start with the openers scoring 69 in the first powerplay six overs. The loss of a wicket didn’t curtail the run flow as opener Clinto Anto continued in the same fashion to complete his half-century in just 18 balls, including four fours and five sixes.

UAE’s second debutant on the day, Muhammad Farooq, ended Anto’s innings and then the UAE bowlers managed to put the brakes on the Kuwait batters to restrict them to 178 for eight in 20 overs. Medium-pacer Ali Naseer and spinner Basil Hameed claimed three wickets each.

Alishan is looking to extend his form and lead UAE to more victories. “My target is to win this tournament and hopefully, I could put on more such performances to get my team over the line. I need to carry on from here and get ready for the next games,” Alishan, the player of the match, concluded.