Brandon King celebrates after hitting a century against UAE in Sharjah.
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Brandon King (112) smacked the maiden century as the West Indies defeated the UAE by seven wickets in the first match of the three-ODI series in Sharjah on Sunday.
Chasing a modest target of 204, West Indies went over the line for the loss of three wickets with 14.4 overs to spare.
The West Indies openers King and Johnnson Charles added a quick-fire 48 runs for the first wicket to set the tone for a successful chase.
They were cruising along well towards the target when Zahoor Khan struck to break the partnership. He bowled Charles, who scored19-ball 24.
Kings played sedated but a watchful innings and shared a 91-run stand with Shamarah Brooks for the second wicket to bring the West Indies close to the target.
Brooks scored a 58-ball 44 before he fell prey to Aayan, who caught him plumb in front of the stumps. But the damage had been done as West Indies needed only 68 runs with almost 23 overs left.
King took the charge in his hands and kept on hitting the UAE bowlers all over the ground. He raced to his century with a six off Meiyappan in 107 deliveries. His innings was studded with 11 boundaries and four sixes.
Earlier, Nasser Ali scored the maiden fifty on his debut to lead UAE fight-back after a Keemo Paul-led three-pronged West Indies pace attack snared seven wickets to thwart the UAE to 202.
They were ably supported by spinners Roston Chase and Yannic Carriah, who picked up one and two wickets respectively. While Paul took 3-34, Drakes and Smith picked up two wickets each, conceding 30 and 40 runs respectively.
UAE got off to a faltering start as they lost their first wicket with zero runs on the board. Paul rattled the stumps of UAE captain and star batsman Muhammad Waseem off the second ball of the match for a duck.
His dismissal brought the UAE under the enormous pressure. Waseem has been in stellar form of late and his wicket pushed the UAE on the back foot from the beginning.
Wicket-keeper Aryaansh Sharma and Vriitya Anand, who is the back bone of the UAE middle-order, knuckled down to stitch the innings.
Anand is one of the most experienced batsmen of the UAE, having scored 1390 runs in 46 ODIs. He had scored a whopping 174 against Singapore in recently-concluded qualifiers in Nepal.
Anand and Aryaansh added 20 runs for the second wicket and took the score to 25. Dominic Drakes uprooted the stumps of Aryaansh to give West Indies the second breakthrough.
The onus of anchoring the stuttering innings came on the shoulders of Anand. He, along with Rameez Shehzad, started to rebuilt it. But Rameez was hit on the head by a rising delivery off Odean Smith and was retired hurt.
Asif Khan joined Anand in the middle. They added 47 runs for the fourth wicket and provided some stability to the innings. When Anand and Asif were playing, the UAE looked set to reach a respectable total of 230.
Asif was clean bowled by Chase but the delivery was declared as a no-ball. UAE batsmen failed to capitalize on the missed chance and lost three wickets in quick succession as they were reduced from 100/2 to 107/5.
Cariah, the five-match veteran and aged 30, got one the most prized scalp of his brief career to dismiss Anand. His dismissal seemed to have opened the floodgates for the West Indies bowlers, who started bowling with a new energy. A charged-up West Indies pace attack were regularly were seen testing the nerve of the UAE batsmen with bouncers.
Rameez, who returned to the pitch after taking the first aid could not survive long and was trapped by Chase in front of the wickets. Asif also could not make the best use of the reprieve, which he got, as he was dismissed after adding only seven runs to his total.
Veterna batsman Rohan Mustafa needed to play a big innings and guide his team to safety. But he was clean bowled by Drakes after scoring just seven runs, leaving his team in tatters.
With just 129 runs on the board and top six batsmen back in the pavilion, the responsibility of anchoring the innings once again came on Aayan, who has played quite a few knocks to rescue his team many a times.
Ali had the opportunity of playing a knock that every rising cricketer aspires to play on his debut. He lived up to the expectations of the team management as he showed a nerve of steel, braved the pace bowlers of the West Indies and went on to score his maiden fifty on his debut.
He shared a 43-run partnership with Karthik Meiyappan for the eighth wicket. He reached his fifty with a single off Drakes.
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