Abu Dhabi: An outstanding bowling performance by left-arm spinner Shadeep Silva and off-spinner Nasir Aziz against the Netherlands on Wednesday helped the UAE reach next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh — the first time they have reached the event.
The spin duo’s brilliance was instrumental in the the hosts’ 10-run win at the Shaikh Zayed Cricket Stadium after they had posted 117 for the loss of eight wickets. The visitors could only muster 107 for nine at the end of their 20 overs.
The UAE last featured in a tournament pitting cricket’s top nations in 1996, when they qualified for the World Cup.
Silva finished with exceptional figures of 4-1-9-1, while Aziz claimed 3 wickets for 21.
There were early signs that the Netherlands would struggle against spin as Shadeep Silva started with a maiden over. The pressure mounted on the Netherlands batsmen and medium pacer Manjula Guruge was rewarded with the wicket of Stephan Myburgh, caught by Aziz. Skipper Khurram Khan then came up with a brilliant run-out, sending back Michael Swart to leave the men in orange reeling on 8 for 2. The Netherlands could only manage 13 runs in the first five overs, setting up the match for a close finish.
After being cleared by the International Cricket Council for a suspect action, previously out-of-sorts off-spinner Aziz found his form when it mattered most.
He took a wicket in his first over — inducing a return catch from Wesley Barresi — reducing the visitors to 34 for 3. The mounting pressure resulted in the run-out of Eric Szwarczynski and it virtually set the cat among the pigeons.
However, the big breakthrough for the UAE came with the dismissal of Netherlands skipper Peter Borren, who has been among the runs all through this series. Medium pacer Amjad Javed, who was sloppy in the field earlier, made amends by getting a delivery to nip back, trapping Borren in front of the crease.
The Netherland’s hopes of a comeback were reignited as Javed conceded 14 runs in the 15th over.
Aziz returned to the attack and he immediately delivered by taking a brilliant one-handed catch on the second attempt to send back Ben Cooper, who was gaining in confidence with a 22-ball 20. Needing 19 from Guruge’s last over, Netherlands only managed nine runs, triggering wild celebrations in the UAE camp.
Earlier, the UAE captain opted to bat first on a wicket that was on the slower side. The UAE have relied heavily on their top four batsmen but the openers, despite getting good starts, threw their wickets away with some ordinary running between wickets.
Khan, despite losing wickets at the other end, held on to score a 24-ball 32. But, once he departed, none of the incoming batsmen could provide the necessary momentum. Mohammad Shafiq’s run-a-ball 25 and Asim Khurdish, who hit 17, saw the UAE to their eventual score of 117 for 8.