The UAE will fly back to Dubai on the back of an impressive preliminary West Asia qualifying campaign that saw them continue their road to reaching the 2020 World Twenty20 in Australia.
Their nine-wicket success against Qatar in Friday’s final not only meant they got their hands on the winners’ trophy but maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition with six wins. They defeated Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives and Saudi Arabia along the way earlier in the week.
There’s still a long way before they can even think about joining the big boys in the global showpiece event but with the opening phase of the qualifiers done, we look at why there are plenty of positives to take from Kuwait City.
LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS
On paper, the UAE were strong favourites to clinch one of the three qualification berths and they lived up to that billing in all their six matches. It had almost been a year since the national team played the shortest format but with various T20 competitions in the domestic circuit, the lack of matches didn’t pose a problem. Coach Dougie Brown stressed the importance of ‘dominating’ and they did exactly that with winning margins of four-wickets (Qatar), seven-wickets (Saudi Arabia), 51-runs (Bahrain), 43-runs (Maldives) and 86-runs (Kuwait).
With the first phase done, attention will now turn to Asia Qualifiers where even bigger tests await. A fixture against Nepal seems certain, providing the Asian side qualify from their Eastern Regional tournament in October. But the UAE can be encouraged by the fact they beat them in their last meeting at the Division Two World Cricket League final, and as such, would fancy their chances of claiming the top two spots.
IMPLEMENTING YOUNGSTERS INTO THE SQUAD
Prior to the trip to Kuwait, the last time Fahad Nawaz donned the national jersey in a competitive match was during the Under-19 Asia Cup last October when he skippered the team to qualification in Malaysia.
With such promise and highly-regarded in the set-up, the 18-year-old was given a chance to show what he’s made of with a place in the squad. He didn’t disappoint by taking four wickets in his two matches.
Brown suggested the importance of grooming upcoming players into the senior team for not only their personal development but for extra competition. With the UAE fortunate to have many young, talented cricketers in their books at Under-16 and Under-19 levels, expect more to follow in Nawaz’s footsteps.
MOHAMMED NAVEED AND ROHAN MUSTAFA LEAD BY EXAMPLE
With Shaiman Anwar and Ahmed Raza rested for the tour, Mohammad Naveed and captain Rohan Mustafa were the most experienced members in the squad and not for the first time, they made their presence count with consistent performances.
Mustafa dropped down to No.3 in the batting order but that didn’t stop him from scoring 71 in the first match. He also claimed 10 wickets in the competition and scooped the Player of the Tournament and Best Batsman accolades, again displaying his ability to lead from the front.
For Naveed, he showed why he sits inside the top-10 ICC bowlers in the format by taking 12 scalps. The pacer was on top of his game, picking up scalps in each of his five games, inclusive of three three wicket-hauls.
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