Dubai: The UAE qualified for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup to be held in South Africa during January-February 2020 by emerging as the champions of the ICC Asia U19 World Cup qualifier in Kuala Lumpur.
Skipper Aryan Lakra, through his third consecutive man of the match award-winning all-round performance that also earned him the player of the tournament award, steered the UAE to an emphatic 10-wicket victory over Oman in their last match of the tournament on Thursday.
The UAE boys celebrated their sterling performance of remaining unbeaten in all the five matches in this qualifier by holding aloft the championship trophy at the Bayuemas Oval ground in Kuala Lumpur.
It is a great feeling to qualify for the World Cup. We had really worked hard to achieve this and feel really good when all the hard work we put in have paid off.
Oman were bowled out for 104 in 43.3 overs, through fine spells from Lakra (3-27) and Rishabh Mukherjee (3-24) while Akasha Tahir and Palaniapan Meiyappan took two wickets each.
The UAE raced to the target through opener Lakra’s unbeaten 51 off 45 balls with nine boundaries and Syed Haider’s unconquered 56 runs off 28 balls with eight boundaries and one six.
Incidentally, the winning shot was a six from Haider.
It is the second time the UAE will play in the U19 World Cup after their maiden appearance in the 2014 edition of the event which was held on home turf.
Speaking to Gulf News after the victory celebration, a delighted Lakra, said: “It is a great feeling to qualify for the World Cup. We had really worked hard to achieve this and feel really good when all the hard work we put in have paid off.”
Oman won the toss and elected to bat. Medium pacer Akasha Tahir, opening the bowling for the UAE, struck with the second ball of the match by removing opener Mohammad Sameer for a duck. Opener Azam Ali and Muzahir Raza took the score to 26 when Mukherjee ended Ali’s knock for 13. Lakra picked his first wicket when he had next man Neev Poojari caught behind for 10. At this stage, Meiyappan struck twice in quick succession to dismiss Raza as well as Oman skipper Prathamesh Kumble for a duck. With half the Oman team back in the pavilion for 56 runs at the halfway mark, Lakra, Mukherjee and Tahir dismissed the rest quickly. Except for wicketkeeper Joel Biju, who top scored with 37, the UAE bowlers did not allow any batsmen to settle down.
UAE coach Shah Hussain attributed the win to team work. “We have won the tournament purely due to team work from players and coaching staff,” he said.
“Everyone contributed to the triumph. I feel the momentum for the victory began from the Bukhatir League in which most of the players had played.”
When Lakra was asked whether he expected such an easy win over Oman, he said: “We just did what we have been doing throughout the tournament. We stuck to the basics and kept doing the small things correctly.”
Talking about his hat-trick of man of the matches and player of the tournament award, Lakra said: “Feels really good when all the work you put in pays off. I just believed in myself and expressed myself and played my natural game.
Lakra was the highest wicket taker in the tournament with 13 wickets from five matches while Said Haider was the third highest scorer of the tournament with 189 runs. Vriitya Aravind, who remained unbeaten in three out of the four innings, topped the tournament’s highest batting average with 133.
UAE bt Oman by 10 wkts.
Oman 105 in 43.3 overs (Joel Biju 37; Aryan Lakra 3-27, Rishabh Mukherjee 3-24
UAE 110 for no loss in 12.1 overs (Aryan Lakra 51n.o, Syed Haider 56n.o)
UAE’s route to World Cup
Beat Malaysia by 5 wkts
Beat Nepal by 1 run (D/L method)
Beat Kuwait by 7 wkts
Beat Singapore by 9 wkts
Beat Oman by 10 wkts