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Saqlain Haider

UAE eyes maiden win after Saqlain ton

UAE v PNG, I Cup Day 3 Report

Visiting side ends third day on 152 for 4, needing 95 more runs to make UAE bat again

The United Arab Emirates moved to within six wickets of its maiden victory in the ICC Intercontinental Cup at the end of the third day’s play against Papua New Guinea.

Trailing by 247 on the first innings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, PNG had reached 152 for 4 at the conclusion of Sunday’s exchanges, needing a further 95 runs to make UAE bat a second time.

Saqlain Haider’s maiden first-class century had earlier in the day helped UAE extend its first innings from its overnight 299 for 6 to a massive 441 for 8 when Rohan Mustafa applied the closure immediately after Saqlain reached three-figures.

Walking in at No. 7 on Saturday with UAE on 251 for 5, Haider, the wicketkeeper-batsman, dominated the second half of the innings once Muhammad Usman, the other centurion, had been dismissed for 103. Saqlain put on 88 for the seventh wicket with Ahmed Raza, whose contribution was a steady 33, and then added 50 for the unfinished ninth-wicket stand with Imran Haider (13) before bringing up his century when he lashed Mahuru Dai to the mid-wicket fence.

In all, Saqlain faced 213 deliveries and struck 10 fours to ensure that his bowlers had a healthy lead with which to attack the PNG batsmen in the second innings. Dai was PNG’s most successful bowler with 4 for 126 from a whopping 52.3 overs.

PNG was rocked early in its innings when Raza, the left-arm spinner, accounted for Vani Morea in the eighth over with just 29 on the board. Tony Ura, the other opener, and Lega Siaka steadied the ship in adding 41 for the second wicket, but Imran then took over with his leg-spin, getting rid of Ura for 35 and then adding the wickets of Assad Vala, the captain, and Dogodo Bau on his way to figures of 3 for 58 .

At stumps, Siaka was unbeaten on 51, holding the innings together. Keeping him company was Sese Bau, on 21, their partnership already worth 46 and carrying PNG’s hopes of coming away unscathed.

PNG currently occupies fourth place in the eight-team table with 40 points from four matches, while UAE is firmly rooted to the bottom with just seven points after suffering three defeats in its four matches so far.

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