24 February 2015
Ireland v UAE Preview, Match 16, Brisbane
UAE will be hoping for consistency to translate promise into a win against Ireland, a familiar opponent
John Mooney hit the winnings runs for Ireland in Nelson
The Associate nations have given a good account of themselves at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. UAE ran Zimbabwe close, Afghanistan reduced Sri Lanka to 51 for 4 during a chase of 233, and Scotland’s bowlers showed twice – against New Zealand and England – just how dangerous they can be. Torchbearer of the Associate nations’ brigade ever since its win against Pakistan on St Patrick’s Day in 2007 in its maiden World Cup, Ireland went a step further to beat West Indies in clinical fashion.
It was a collective effort for the Irish. First, the bowlers reduced the opposition to 87 for 5 and then did well to restrict the target to 305 even after Lendl Simmons forged ahead. Then, the chase was front-ended by Paul Stirling’s 92, an innings that mixed great control with brute force and power. Joyce chipped in with a classy and elegant innings of 84 and Niall O’Brien remained unbeaten on 79 to complete the honours with 25 balls to spare.
Nothing less than a win against UAE would whet Ireland’s appetite, but with thunderstorms predicted on the match afternoon, the prayers won’t be far from the lips.
UAE, meanwhile, will be looking to sustain its good run throughout the duration of a game. Like other Associate nations, it has been spirited in short bursts, used aggression to put the opposition on the back foot, but on occasion has failed to capitalise on it, allowing more experienced teams to run away with the game.
Mazhar Hussain’s 122 and Arshad Laeeq’s four wickets helped UAE beat Ireland by 59 runs when the teams first played in a 50-over match in the 1993-94 ICC Trophy. And now, all these years later, having come so far through the qualification route, it would fancy its chances for a win against Ireland. It is a team UAE knows more about than the others in the group, having met regularly in various ICC divisional events. Khurram Khan, the 43-year-old batsman and captain till recently, was not hiding his aspirations.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity because it’s a very important game for us. So we are definitely targeting this game,” said Khurram. “They (too) will be targeting us. We have played lots of games against them.”
Khurram and his teammates, however, would know that to open their points tally, they would have do much more with the bat than what they did against Zimbabwe.
Though five top-order batsmen got starts and took UAE to 285 for 7 – its highest innings total in ODIs – none of them could convert it to a big score. The dismissal of Shaiman Anwar for a 50-ball 67 in the 45th over would have hurt the most as UAE fell short at least by 20 runs from the projected score when he was at the crease. The margin proved decisive as Zimbabwe won with only 12 balls to spare.
Khurram believed playing more big games would help them handle such situations better. “It’s a slow process. Obviously it’s going to take time. But you have seen some of the (Associate) games (in the World Cup). They have been crucial and close games, and we are looking forward to having some good games.”
Another exciting performance would go a long way for both teams.
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien, Gary Wilson (wk), Andy Balbirnie, Kevin O’Brien, John Mooney, George Dockrell, Max Sorensen, Craig Young, Peter Chase, Alex Cusack, Stuart Thompson, Tim Murtagh.
UAE: Amjad Ali, Andri Berenger, Krishna Chandran, Khurram Khan, Swapnil Patil (wk), Shaiman Anwar, Rohan Mustafa, Mohammad Naveed, Amjad Javed, Mohammad Tauqir (capt), Nasir Aziz, Fahad Alhashmi, Manjula Guruge, Saqlain Haider, Kamran Shahzad.
Afghanistan v Scotland Preview, Match 17, Dunedin
Gayle record double blows Zimbabwe away