UAE Down Frontrunners Oman As League 2 Resumes

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - UAE down frontrunners Oman as League 2 resumes. The UAE claim 2 valuable points and go 1-0 up in the ad-hoc ODI series.

UAE Down Frontrunners Oman As League 2 ResumesThe UAE claim 2 valuable points and go 1-0 up in the ad-hoc ODI series.

The United Arab Emirates returned to ODI cricket after a hiatus of over a year to best hosts and CWC League 2 frontrunners Oman in the first of three catch-up fixtures at Muscat on Saturday (February 5). Chirag Suri's maiden ODI century, backed up by a composed 89 from youngster Vriitya Aravind and a quickfire 61 from Basil Hameed saw the visitors record their highest-ever chase in ODIs, overhauling Oman's total of 307 for 9 with an over to spare. Jatinder Singh's second ODI ton had laid the groundwork for the hosts' imposing total, with Ayaan Khan providing a supporting 77. Naseem Kushi's 21-ball 42 added late impetus, but comparatively parsimonious spells from UAE spinners Rohan Mustafa and Ahmed Raza prevented the hosts from putting the game beyond reach.

The hosts were without first-choice No.3 Aaqib Ilyas for the game, the League 2 lead run-scorer who was ruled out for at least six months to undergo surgery to remove a non-cancerous bone tumor. Nonetheless, Jatinder Singh got the “Red Brigade” off to a solid yet cautious start after being put in to bat, building partnerships with Kashyap Prajpati and Ayaan Khan to Oman to 107-2 by the half-way stage.

In retrospect, the going had arguably been too slow with the UAE spinners Raza and Mustafa having gone at under 4 an over at that stage, though Singh would begin to hit out in the next over, taking Raza for back-to-back boundaries as the 26th over went for 15 runs. Singh would bring up his century in the 31st over, sweeping Mustafa to the boundary on his 91st delivery, but would be caught off Zahoor Khan in the next over to leave Oman on 167-3 after 32.

The pressure to accelerate was telling, with new man Shoaib Khan run out by Waseem in the 37th over, skipper Zeeshan Maqsood cleaned up after and then Waseem again throwing down the stumps to remove the set Ayaan Khan for 77. Some late hitting from Kushi and Sandeep Goud saw Oman add 71 runs in the last 7 overs, and with 307 on the board, the hosts will have been the happier side at the break.

They were still the happier side two overs into the UAE chase when Bilal Khan removed Muhammad Waseem for a first-ball duck with the final ball of the first over and then Kaleemullah followed up with a maiden from the other end. Over the next 30 overs, however, their spirits will have progressively sunk, as Suri and Aravind put on a record partnership of 180 for the second wicket. Initially watchful, the pair ticked along at barely 4 runs an over for the next 20 overs, but thereafter began to find the rope with some regularity, Aravind hitting Bilal for consecutive sixes to mark the start of the 29th over.

Kaleemullah would eventually break the partnership, having Aravind caught 11 short of a century on the first ball of the 34th, but Suri would reach the milestone in style three overs later, hitting Khawar Ali out of the ground to bring up a maiden ODI century. Suri would fall to Bilal in the 39th with 85 runs still needed, but Basil Hameed set the tone for his innings when he flicked his first ball to the rope for four. His 61 off 31 balls would effectively put the game to bed, and though Kaleemullah would return to claim his wicket and that of Mustafa in successive deliveries to complete an excellent personal showing of 3-43 in ten overs, by then the UAE needed just three runs to win, Kashif Daud getting his side over the line with six balls and four wickets to spare.

The UAE thus claim 2 valuable points and go 1-0 up in the ad-hoc ODI series. Taking advantage of the UAE's presence in Oman for the first of the twin T20 WC Global Qualifiers which gets underway later this month, these matches are being played to make up for the games lost in the two interrupted League 2 series in November last year and February 202, which were cut short by the emergence of the Omicron variant anddeath of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said respectively.

The matches will be Oman's last home fixtures in the competition, and they will be hoping to put some more distance between themselves and the chasing pack on the League 2 table which they currently lead with 14 wins from 21 games, while the UAE will be looking to challenge for a top-three finish and a guaranteed berth at the 2023 World Cup Qualifier. With several games in hand over both Scotland and the USA, who currently occupy the next two slots.

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