Ghulam Shabber made the most of a letoff on 42 to crack 136 in UAE's total of 279 for 5 before Tahir Latif took three wickets to wreck USA's chase in a 22-run win for UAE.
By Peter Della Penna in Dubai
Ghulam Shabber capitalized on a major letoff to haunt USA with 136 as the visitors struggled in challenging weather conditions to lose by 22 runs to the UAE on Monday at The Sevens Ground in Dubai. Shabber given a second life on 42 before going on to add another 94 runs in UAE’s total of 279 for 5 before the hosts restricted USA to 257 for 9 in response.
UAE won the toss and elected to bat first under the captaincy of Chirag Suri as regular captain Mohammad Naveed and star spinner Ahmed Raza were rested. On the USA side, Ali Khan was also given a day off following his 4 for 26 a day earlier while Aaron Jones was kept out after retiring hurt a day earlier with a left knee injury and subsequently went to have an MRI during USA’s loss.
UAE had difficulty getting USA’s bowlers away early as Karima Gore once again tied down the opposition bowling spin with the new ball. But it was Steven Taylor who struck first, snaring a sharp catch on a return drive off the bat of Rohan Mustafa for 14 in the 9th over. A maiden by Gore in the 10th kept the pressure on before Taylor claimed UAE’s other opening bat in the 11th, Ashfaq Ahmed slicing a drive to Hayden Walsh at backward point for 14.
USA wouldn’t claim another wicket until the 40th over as Shabber and Muhammad Usman combined for a 160-run stand during which conditions changed dramatically, with strong winds gusting up to 35 mph blew north across the ground. Shabber used conditions to his advantage while batting on both sides of the wicket. Nine of his 15 fours actually came when USA bowlers had the wind at their backs as Shabber routinely used the pace on the ball, aided by the wind, to open the face of his bat and glide boundaries through third man off USA’s spinners. When USA bowlers got their lengths fractionally wrong bowling into the wind, Shabber chipped them over mid-off with the wind as well, including two fours and a six off Saurabh Netravalkar in the 37th.
But the stand could have been broken well before then. After hitting Roy Silva for a boundary in the 25th, Shabber mistimed a flick that produced a top edge which swirled over the pitch. Jaskaran Malhotra had left the field after the 20th over, which meant Monank Patel was standing up to the stumps keeping to Silva’s medium pace and Silva cleared out for Monank with the gloves despite the fact that the wind was blowing the ball towards Silva. In the end, Monank never got a hand to the ball diving forward. The stand had reached 64 at the time as Shabber and Usman added another 96 together.
Shabber scored his first 50 off 72 balls while Usman reached his off 68 balls in the 35th over. Usman finally fell leg before when he missed a sweep to Gore and was struck on the toe for 57. USA continued to struggle with the wind – many players wore medical masks to cover their noses and mouths as conditions produced a sandstorm in the desert – as Mohammad Boota was dropped by Walsh at deep midwicket on 27 in the 47th over diving forward late after a skied chance didn’t carry as far as expected with the aid of the wind. Boota added another 17 before he was caught at long-on by Taylor off Netravalkar in the 49th.
Shabber looked like he was going to end unbeaten but finally perished on the final ball of the innings, trying to turn a single into two for CP Rizwan. Gore’s relay to Silva denied the second run, but USA had still conceded 88 off their final 10 overs and UAE’s total appeared to be well above par.
Yet USA looked like they would chase the target with ease at one stage, racing to 73 for 0 in the Powerplay, more than double what UAE had produced in their first 10 overs. Xavier Marshall was once again in excellent touch, driving Qadeer Ahmed for two fours and a massive six over long-on in the 7th over with the wind at the batsman’s back driving straight. He punished Zahoor Khan for two more boundaries with the wind in the 9th. The stand reached 75 when Monank was out for 29, bowled by Zahoor by one that held its line.
USA’s running between the wickets was poor on the day and it proved costly when Taylor got into a mixup with Marshall resulting in Taylor stranded halfway down the pitch trying to push for a single to cover off left-arm wristspinner Tahir Latif as Usman’s relay to Shabber behind the stumps sent Taylor off for 4 in the 18th to make it 90 for 2. Tahir created numerous problems on the day for USA and he went on to claim three batsmen who all fell trying to sweep him.
The first was Malhotra in the 24th, missing a full delivery to be given lbw for 8. Jannisar Khan entered and got off the mark with a four to his first ball cut behind point. But Jannisar struggled to rotate the strike afterward. With Marshall on 73 at the end of the 27th, he only faced three deliveries over the next three overs. Jannisar’s frustration nearly resulted in him being run out in the 30th off Latif before he swept his next ball straight to Imran Haider at short fine leg for 13. Having gone cold in the previous 15 minutes starved of the strike, Marshall then fell to Haider’s legspin in the 31st, bowled defending down the wrong line for 76. Latif claimed his third in the last over before drinks as Silva missed a sweep for Latif’s second lbw decision to make it 157 for 6.
Timil Patel fell in the third over after play resumed for the final session, edging an attempted drive off Zahoor behind to Shabber for 2. Gore survived a botched stumping after charging Mustafa in the 40th, but could only add another two runs before he was out for 8, caught flat-batting Qadeer to long-on to make it 183 for 8 as USA needed 97 with 7.4 overs to go.
Walsh looked like he might rally USA to an unlikely comeback when he clubbed a six, a no ball for four and then a free hit for four straight down the ground aided by the wind to start off the 45th by Qadeer. But he was given out caught behind a few balls later for 33 after his attempted uppercut off a slower ball went awry.
Netravalkar kept hope alive crushing two sixes through the wind off CP Rizwan’s part-time spin in the 48th and entering the final over, USA was still mathematically alive needing 32 but would have to do it with Haider bowling with the wind at his back. A dot first ball was followed by a four and Haider eventually conceded just nine off the over as USA ended just short.
The teams have two days off before the final encounter in their three-match series at The Sevens on Thursday.