UAE, Nepal, Ireland and Oman eye T20 World Cup spots as Qualifier A semis loom - GulfToday

UAE, Nepal, Ireland and Oman eye T20 World Cup spots as Qualifier A semis loom


UAE players celebrate after taking a wicket during their match against Bahrain on Monday. Courtesy: UAE Cricket Team Twitter

Gulf Today Report

The UAE, Nepal, Ireland and Oman — will be anxious to get on the cricket field in order to secure their berths in the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, when they clash in the T20 World Cup Qualifier A semifinals later on Tuesday.

The winners of Tuesday's semifinals between UAE and Nepal, and Ireland and Oman at Al Amerat will take the 13th and 14th spots for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year, with the last two places decided at the 'B' Qualifier in July.

The UAE team is coming into the semifinal after showing their quality early in the group stage, accounting for Full Member Ireland in an 18-run victory before brushing aside the German challenge.

The UAE and Ireland have booked their places from Group B in the semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier A, supported by Dream 11, in contrasting styles at Al Amerat in Oman on Monday.

The game at the Oman Academy 2 ground between UAE and Bahrain produced some excitement around a last ball finish. UAE needed 27 to win in the final over, after Bahrain had amassed 172.

UAE’s Vriitya Aravind, who has been in excellent form in the Qualifiers, hit two fours and two sixes off Shahid Mahmood’s final over to bring the equation down to five off the last ball. Mahmood kept his cool to concede only two and ensure Bahrain got over the line.

UAE opener Muhammad Waseem was sent back cheaply and while Chirag Suri looked good for his 24-ball 26, the latter’s dismissal meant that the UAE had a mountain to climb with 138 needed in 14 overs. Aravind and Rohan Mustafa gave it a good go, forging a 91-run fourth-wicket partnership to keep the UAE in the game.

Mustafa made 41 but it was the young Aravind, who looked elegant and dominant, with a scintillating 52-ball 84 - a knock that included 6 fours and 5 sixes to take the game till the last ball.

For Bahrain, captain Sarfaraz Ali stepped up with the ball too, picking up two crucial back-to-back wickets in the 19th over to cripple the UAE run chase. Imran Anwar did the same in the 18th over. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Bahrain posted 172/5. David Mathias top scored with an unbeaten 46 off 35 deliveries.

Captain Ali (32) and Umer Imtiaz (42) took early command with a 50-run partnership. Ali was the aggressor in this stand and Bahrain maintained a brisk run-rate. After his dismissal, Imtiaz took over for the remainder of his innings. He shared a 41-run partnership with Mathias that allowed the newcomer to get comfortable in the crease. Both Haider Butt (35 off 17) and a well-set Mathias exploded in the final five overs, exploiting wayward bowling to make 68 runs.

Ahmed Raza, UAE Captain said: “With Aravind playing so well, we still believed till the last ball that it (run chase) was possible. If the last shot too had beaten the fielder, it would have gone to a Super Over that I think would have been an ideal finish to this match. Congratulations to Bahrain though, they played amazingly well in this game and in the tournament as well.”

Commenting on Aravind’s performance, Raza added, “Aravind backs his skills and shots regardless of the pressure. Even if the opponents are making some noises, he stays in his own zone. He takes the game deep. He did that against Ireland and he did the same today. Gutted that he couldn’t take us over the line but overall, we had a pretty poor day in the field. Even with the bat we had a few lapses that must be corrected before the semi-finals. Hopefully, our bad days are out of the way, and we go again strongly tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, both Ireland and Oman enter the Qualifier after first-round exits at last year's T20 World Cup. Smarting from the loss to Nepal after collapsing to 78 all out in pursuit of 117, the Zeeshan Maqsood-led Oman made up the ground defeating Canada and the Philippines.

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