Abu Dhabi: Rameez Shahzad and Chirag Suri steered UAE to their second win in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup qualifier at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Shahzad cracked 54 runs while opener Suri remained unconquered on 44 to guide the UAE to an impressive eight-wicket win with 29 balls to spare after restricting Hong Kong to 116 for seven in 20 overs.
Electing to bat, Hong Kong openers Nizakat Khan and Ahsan Abbasi put on 40 runs in seven overs when UAE skipper Ahmad Raza had Abbasi caught and bowled for 18. Captain Aizaz Khan and Kinchit Shah took the score to 93 in 15.4 when Ahmad picked his second wicket by forcing Khan to hit high to Shahzad at deep mid-wicket for 19. Hong Kong reached the 100-run mark in 16.5 overs but Raza ran out Shah for 30. Rohan Mustafa then trapped Haroon Arshad and Scott McKechnie in the last over to restrict Hong Kong.
UAE openers Chirag Suri and Mustafa put on 20 runs in 3.3 over when Mustafa was caught in the covers by covers for 10 by Ehsan Khan off Kyle Christie. No.3 Shahzad began by hitting Shah for a six over long on and in the first 10 overs, UAE reached 61 for one. In the 11th over, Shehzad hit Waqas Barkat for a six and boundary off successive balls while Suri too hit Aizaz for a six over mid-wicket to take full control of the match.
In another development, Ashfaq Ahmed became the fourth UAE cricketer suspended as part of an anti-corruption investigation.
Ahmed opened the batting in their first two matches at the ongoing qualifying tournament. He scored four as UAE lost to Oman on Friday and three as they beat Ireland on Saturday.
"Further to the ongoing investigations led by the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit, Emirates Cricket Board has today provisionally suspended Ashfaq Ahmed with immediate effect," the Emirates Cricket Board said in a statement.
They added that "no formal charges have been laid against the player, and the Board will wait for the conclusion of proceedings before making any further comment."
Last Wednesday, captain Mohammed Naveed, batsman Shaiman Anwar and right-arm pace bowler Qadeer Ahmed were charged with corruption by the International Cricket Council. The three players face a total of 12 counts of breaching the governing body's anti-corruption rules.
A fourth individual, Mehardeep Chhayakar, was charged for refusing to cooperate with the ICC.
In the only match held in the morning at the ICC Academy in Dubai, Scotland recorded an exciting four-run win over Papua New Guinea (PNG). Scotland won the toss and elected to bat first and posted 146 for six in 20 overs. Skipper and opener Kyle Coetzer topscored with 54 runs while wicketkeeper Matthew Cross hit an unbeaten 40 off 23 balls.
Chasing the total, PNG kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Left-arm spinner Hamsa Tahir took vital wickets to check their run flow and returned with figures of three for 24 in four overs. PNG’s Norman Vanua pulled his team closer to the target with a quick 33 off 18 balls but his effort went in vain.
In another match at the ICC Academy ground, Kenya defended a modest total of 138 for 5 (thanks to Dhiren Gondaria’s unbeaten 85) when they restricted Bermuda to 93 in 18.5 overs to win by 45 runs. Kenya’s Collins Obuya picked four wickets for 27 runs to destroy Bermuda.
At the Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi, Ireland snapped Oman’s victory run with a 35-run victory. Ireland scored 183 for three through Gareth Delany’s 89 runs. Oman could muster only 148 for nine despite Khawar Ali’s knock of 50.