UAE almost made USA visit the ghosts of their infamous collapse against Nepal a couple of months ago from a commanding position that ended in an embarrassing tie. While USA failed to get over the line against Nepal after needing 26 off 30 with 7 wickets in hands, the last-wicket pair of Gajanand Singh and Saurbah Netravalkar added 6 vital runs to have USA avoid the blushes after UAE had USA in disarray at 250 for 9 after cruising to 210 for 3 at a certain stage.
Monank Patel’s crafty 85 and Aaron Jones breezy half-century set the tone for a tricky chase of 255 after USA lost Sushant Modani and Aaron Jones in quick succession with the score at 44. The pair put on a stand of 126 off 147 balls effectively keeping the likes of Ahmed Raza and Rohan Mustafa at bay with calculative stroke play to counter the spin threat. Junaid Siddique bounced out Jones in the 34th over towards fine leg to have UAE sniffing at victory again. Ian Holland, back in USA 50 over fold after more than a couple of years played a few delightful strokes reminding USA off his charming presence in an erratic middle order that continues to plague USA.
Monank fell to Zahoor Khan just 15 runs short of a magical hundred, holing out to mid on in an attempt to shift gears with the finish line in sight. After Rohan Mustafa pinned Ian Holland in front off a failed reverse sweep, USA committed hara-kiri of the highest order, as mindless runouts and hoicks gave the UAE an extra spring to their step. Gajanand Singh carved one through point in the final off the first ball of the final over letting the USA heave a sigh of relief, remaining unbeaten on 26.
Earlier in the day, 20-year-olds Aryan Lakra and Vriitya Aravind lifted the UAE with a hundred-run stand after USA Muhammad Waseem and Chirag Suri sent back to the pavilion in single digits. Lakra oozed confidence atypical of a debutant, fearlessly thumping the ball down the ground on more than one occasion. While the youngsters set anchor in the middle, USA bowlers never let them off the hook. Lakra’s 84 off 112 and Aravind’s 53 off 85 failed to wrestle any momentum towards the UAE. A cameo of 38 off 25 from C Rizwan along with a couple of hefty blows from Zawar Farid made the UAE cross the 250 mark, with UAE finally able to dictate terms over the USA, adding 85 in the final 10.
UAE have now ended up on the losing side in both of their games this tri-series. With only a point separating them and USA in the world cup league 2, the race is tightening up for the third and only spot available to directly book a berth to the 2023 world cup qualifiers, with Oman and Scotland sitting pretty at a distance at first and second spots respectively.