Steven Taylor's career day began with a five-wicket haul and ended with an unbeaten half-century as USA rolled over UAE by nine wickets at The Sevens in Dubai.
By Peter Della Penna in Dubai
Steven Taylor become the first USA player to take three five-wicket hauls in 50-over cricket as he ripped through the UAE tail to help bowl out the hosts for 143 before scoring an unbeaten 70 off 74 balls as USA ended their tour of the UAE with a nine-wicket win over UAE at The Sevens ground on Thursday. The win secured a 2-1 series victory for USA over the UAE after UAE had drawn the series level with a 22-run win on Monday.
The match began after a 90-minute delay and was reduced to 42 overs per side due to overnight and morning rain at The Sevens Ground. USA won the toss and sent UAE in, but neither innings went the full allotment as Ali Khan and then Taylor combined to steamroll UAE in 38 overs before USA chased down the target with 11 overs to spare behind fifties from Taylor and Monank Patel.
USA got on top early and never let up when Khan struck with his first ball of the day in the second over as Ashfaq Ahmed cut straight to Hayden Walsh at backward point for a golden duck. Taylor enjoyed success in his opening over as well, trapping Rohan Mustafa on the crease with his fourth ball to send off the former UAE captain for 14. Jessy Singh followed up a short time later with a wicket-maiden in the 13th as Shaiman Anwar’s attempt to open the face of the bat for a single to third man instead produced an edge through to Jaskaran Malhotra for 11.
Ghulam Shabber, who had made 136 three days earlier in a win over USA after being dropped on 42, nearly produced a déjà vu knock when he was spilled by Taylor at slip off Khan on 6. It was Taylor’s only blemish on the day and wound up not being as costly as the miss in the previous match thanks to Khan’s persistence. The fast bowler returned for a second spell in the 17th and claimed Shabber for 29 with a tame one-handed slap to Walsh at backward point once again. Khan made it two wickets in the space of three balls for himself when he had Chirag Suri edging behind a good length ball two balls into the 19th for a duck to make it 65 for 5.
Muhammad Usman and Mohammad Boota survived the rest of Khan’s spell and forged a 45-run stand together to get UAE back on track. With 14 overs to go on what had been a flat wicket all week long at the Sevens, 200 looked possible. But 20-year-old Karima Gore broke the stand getting Boota to drive a catch to Monank at long-off to start the 29th and UAE failed to recover.
After Gore’s breakthrough, Taylor emerged once more to spin out the rest of the UAE lineup, taking the last four wickets for just 14 runs. Ahmed Raza was his second victim of the day, bowled behind his legs attempting to scoop Taylor over short fine leg. UAE captain Mohammad Naveed did manage to connect with a scoop shot in Taylor’s next over in the 36th, but failed to clear Xavier Marshall on the ring and UAE were 136 for 8.
With Usman running out of partners, he tried to drive hard at Taylor in the 38th over mid-off but instead sliced an edge softly to Walsh at backward point for his third catch of the day, ending Usman’s innings for 45. With one ball left in his spell, Taylor darted a quicker ball through Qadeer Ahmed’s back foot flick to end his day with five wickets as UAE left four overs unused.
Marshall fell in the eighth over of the chase as Raza got one to spin past his forward prod to be bowled for 9. UAE had a chance to end the 113-run stand between Monank and Taylor in its infancy but with Monank on 20 and the score 39 for 1, Shaiman dropped a regulation chance at slip when Monank edged legspinner Imran Haider’s first ball.
From then on, the pair went about chasing the target in methodical fashion. Taylor was scoring at well under a run a ball for much of his innings before flicking Raza for six over wide long-on in the 24th to move to 43. At 107 for 1 in 27 overs, Qadeer was brought into the attack and immediately leaked three boundaries to hasten the end of proceedings. Both Monank and Taylor brought up their half-centuries in the over, Monank doing it with a flick behind square for four off his 89th ball while Taylor drove over Ashfaq’s leaping effort at extra cover for a boundary to bring up the landmark off 60 balls.
A pair of straight driven sixes off Ashfaq and Haider in the 29th and 30th by Taylor took USA within one shot of victory before Taylor clinched the win pushing a single to mid-off on the final ball of the 31st.
USA’s squad departs Dubai on March 30 to head back to the USA before heading off to South Africa on April 10 for a week of training ahead of WCL Division Two in Namibia.