Chundangapoyil Rizwan (above) and Mohd Usman hit centuries as UAE beat Ireland.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
A buoyant UAE will look to tighten their stranglehold on the series with a victory over Ireland in the second ODI on Sunday.
Riding on spectacular centuries by Mohd Usman and Chundangapoyil Rizwan, the UAE drew the first blood in the four-match series, beating Ireland by six wickets.
After restricting Ireland to 269/7 in their 50 overs, the UAE knocked down the winning run for the loss of just four wickets with six balls to spare.
A resilient UAE will look to carry the same momentum into the second game and extend their lead in the series.
There was a brief stutter before the UAE duo of Usman and Rizwan knuckled down to anchor the innings and take the host over the line. A fourth-wicket stand of 184 runs showed the depth in the UAE middle order, who were playing without vice-captain Chirag Suri and Aryan Lakra.
The duo have tested positive for corona and are serving a mandatory quarantine of 14 days, which means they have been effectively rule out of the tournament.
A resolute duo of Usman and Rizwan took the onus on their shoulder showed that the UAE on the right track in the pursuit of the third qualification for the showpiece event.
The UAE will once again pin their hopes on the Indo-Pak pair of Usman and Rizwan to consolidate the middle order while Waheed Ahmed and Rohan Mustafa can play big shots down the order and spur the run rate.
Captain Ahmed Raza will lead the spin department along with Mustafa, who has rendered his services both with the bat and the ball. He has been a permanent feature of the UAE cricket team for over a decade and is one of the most experienced players in the line-up. He also has the distinction of playing in the 2015 World Cup in Australia.
Meanwhile, Zahoor Khan will spearhead the pace battery and he is likely to be supported by Kashif Daud and Waheed.
UAE had not played any international match for over a year before the series opener against Ireland but few of their players had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the international stars like Dwayne Bravo, Rohit Sharma and AB De Villiers at the recently concluded IPL.
The 13th edition of the IPL was shifted to the UAE in the wake of rising cases of coronavirus in the country of one billion plus population.
Zahoor was roped in by (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians as net bowler after a couple of their bowlers picked up injuries and were ruled out.
Raza and Karthik Meiyappan trained with Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), where they got to bowl at legend likes De Villiers.
And all these players translated their training experience with the cricketing giants into success against a formidable Ireland.
The UAE are playing their first bilateral series in over a year since the outbreak of the pandemic. The novel coronavirus brought all the sporting activities to a halt.
Ireland too are playing their first international series after a year almost. The Ireland will play an ODI series later in the month against Afghanistan.
Ireland will also look to bounce back to draw level. The mainstay of their bating will be once again Paul Sterling, who scored his tenth century in the ODIs in the first match, and Kevin O’ Brien.
Earlier, in a groundbreaking move, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and their Irish counter-parts decided to organise a series to give both the teams some international exposure and practice ahead of the 2023 cricket World Cup qualifiers.
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The UAE defeated Ireland in the first ODI to take a 1-0 lead in the series. But the next two games were cancelled because of some of the UAE players were found coronavirus positive and were send into isolation.
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