By Wisden India staff in Sylhet
“Fielding has been a real concern for the last few games,” concedes Khurram Khan, referring to the many missed chances
Cooper picked up the wickets of Khurram Khan, the UAE captain, and Swapnil Patil in one over, then made an unbeaten 34 as the Netherlands chased down 152 with some comfort.
For a side that has been under the cosh a bit in recent times for its inability to chase down totals, this was a morale-boosting win. “Looking from afar, we have obviously lost a few games we should have won,” admitted Cooper. “I guess it is very satisfying to be able to contribute to steering the ship home and getting a win in what was a very important game. There is a lot of skill in this team. If the boys remain calm under pressure, I cannot see it (the chasing woes) happening too much more often, hopefully.”
Cooper flew in from Australia just in time for this game, and said the conditions meant he didn’t have too much adjusting to do. “It was a very good wicket out there. It wasn't too hard I guess; under the lights there was a lot of dew on the wicket so it skidded on nicely,” he said.
Of his own bowling, Cooper was a little more than self-deprecating. “I guess I got a little bit lucky with the ball,” he smiled. “It is very hit and miss, and Petey (Borren, the captain) threw me the ball at a pretty crucial stage. I fortunately had a couple of wickets there. I thought the rest of the bowlers bowled really well. To keep them to 150 on that wicket was a great effort. Steph (Myburgh) and Mickey (Swart) got us off to a great start. It was a case of steering the ship home at the end there.
“I guess, looking back at it, those two strikes were very crucial but we had Ahsan Malik to come on and we continued to take wickets at regular intervals after that, which enabled us to keep them to 150. At a point, they were looking to get a few more. It was a great team effort to continue to take wickets, skip with a great run-out, took a lot of momentum into our batting innings.”
Khurram, meanwhile, said nerves had no part to play in his team’s loss in its first appearance at the World T20. “Actually, I do not think it was big-match nerves. Our fielding has been a real concern for the last few games,” he said, referring to nearly half a dozen catches being put down. “We dropped them in the last game as well. We are giving too many chances in the field, we dropped too many and in the end we paid for that.”
On match eve, Khurram had said he would have taken 150, and his batsmen gave him 151, which wasn’t anywhere near enough. “I said 150 would have been a good target but you have to keep in mind that you have to bowl very well and take your catches. At one stage, we could have got 170-175. We were 25 runs short. That was the difference in the end,” he said.
“There is no doubt about the fact that the Netherlands openers (Stephan Myburgh and Michael Swart) batted really well. But that is what happens in the first six overs. If you don't
bowl well, in the good areas, obviously you are going to go for runs and then we kept giving them chances, we dropped so many catches.”
UAE kept losing wickets in pairs, wickets of set batsmen at that. “It is the responsibility of the batsman who is there (to carry on). I gave away my wicket in the same over Swapnil (Patil) got out and then in the 15th-16th over, we lost three wickets in the span of three-four runs. Both Rohan (Mustafa) and Shaiman (Anwar) were playing very well and Amjad Javed is a very good batsman for us. That cost us dearly,” explained Khurram.