Led by an outstanding rear-guard 93 from Man-of-the-Match Aayan Afzal Khan, the UAE moved past a disappointingly feckless West Indies U19s by 82 runs in the Plate semifinal of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad today.
In reply to the UAE’s 224 for 9 off their full allotment of 50 overs, the Matthew Nandu-led WIU19s managed only 142 off 39.4 overs. And they would not have got into three figures were it not for a fruitful 70-run stand between Nathan Edward (51 off 65, 5 x 4) and Isai Thorne (17 off 52, 1 x 4) whose last-wicket partnership ended just two runs shy of doubling the score at the fall of the ninth wicket.
The result means that the WIU19 will meet the loser of tomorrow’s Ireland vs Zimbabwe second semifinal in the 11th place playoff on Monday at the Diego Martin Sport Complex. That is a far cry from where coach Curtly Ambrose would have envisaged his charges placing, given that they enjoyed home advantage.
And it is no consolation that the team was hit by Covid-19, which deprived them of the services of both captain Ackeem Auguste and Giovante Depeiza and others before the start of the second phase.
But given the massive 317 for 7 they put on the board on Wednesday against PNG, today’s capitulation must have been something of a shock to all concerned.
Khan, the UAE number six, carved his way to within sight of what would have been a thoroughly deserved century to put his team on course for their eventual challenging total.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, UAE skipper Alishan Sharafu was one of Shiva Sankar’s three early victims. That meant that when Khan came to the crease, his team was in some strife at 26 for four in the 11th over.
For the next 38 overs, the 16-year-old Khan defied everything that stand-in skipper Nandu could throw at him, occupying the crease for 121 balls. He was eventually last man out with just eight balls left in the innings.
It was Nandu who, at 214 for 9, induced him into error and had him caught by Teddy Bishop, his third catch on the day. By that time, he had cracked 11 fours, largely off the middle of the bat and on both sides of the wicket, one more than all the rest of the batsmen put together.
The middle-order allrounder first found a useful partner in Dhruv Parashar, whose contribution of 3 to the innings-steadying fifth-wicket partnership occupied all of 29 balls.
Khan then got excellent support from Shival Bawa, who joined him at 76 for 6, when the left-handed allrounder Ali Naseer (12 off 23) was caught by Bishop off McKenny Clarke. At that stage, the UAE looked dead though not yet buried.
But in no mood for an early funeral or cremation, Bawa (51 off 58) and Khan withstood the early heat.
The number eight hit two sixes and five fours in his nearly run-a-ball, face-saving half-century to post 103 for the seventh-wicket with Khan.
At 179, Nathan Edward had Bawa caught by Shaqkere Parris and then Nandu and Bishop also accounted for Ronak Panoly to give the skipper decent figures of 2/24. But the WIU19’s best bowler was Sankar, who added 3/31 match figures to the 3/17 he registered against Scotland in the group match on Sunday
Chasing the gettable-but-not-easily-so total, WIU19s would have liked the kind of start they had had against Papua New Guinea on Wednesday when the openers put on 155, with Nandu getting 128. No such luck.
Parris fell to the slow-left-arm orthodox spin of Jash Giyanani in the second over and Bishop was bowled by Naseer three overs later, neither reaching double figures. When the 17-year-old Giyanani breached century-maker Nandu’s defences in the next over, things looked worse than brown for the home side, teetering on the edge at 20 for 3.
Giyanani (10-3-2-3) served up his left-arm orthodox stuff from one end for seven consecutive overs and Naseer (6-1-24-1) plugged away at the other end for five. Sharafu replaced Naseer with Bawa for one over before giving that end to Parashar (9-2-30-4) for an unbroken 9-over spell. The move paid rich dividends.
In at five, Jordan Johnson fared no better against the spin than those who had gone before him. When Giyanani had him caught by debutant Sailles Jaishankar in the last over of the powerplay, someone thought of putting through a call for help. Not to 911 or 999. The batsmen’s scores read 7-7-6-4-8*-0-0, the last digit the Extras tally.
The in-form Kevin Wickham, who had scored 56 on debut against Sri Lanka and an unbeaten 61* against PNG, had watched from the other end as Nandu, Johnson and Rivaldo Clarke came and went to leave the WIU19 on 59 for 5.
Before the score could get to 60, both he and Anderson Mahase had joined the threesome in the pavilion.
Clarke and Sankar did not trouble the scorers. Edward and Thorne, however, kept level heads and advanced steadily towards the receding target but never quickly enough to cause Sharafu and his men any real concern.
When eventually the skipper gave the ball to the man who had done it for him with the bat, Khan bowled three overs from one end before being switched around. He wrapped up a fine day’s work, trapping Thorne right in front with his fourth ball, his first ball to the off-spinner.
The UAE will hope to do just as well in their next assignment, the Plate final against either Ireland or Zimbabwe at 9am on Monday 31 January at the Queen’s Park Oval.
UAE: 224 for 9 (50 overs) (Aayan Khan 93; Shival Bawa 51; Shiva Sharma 3/31, Matthew Nandu 2/24, Nathan Edward 2/39)
West Indies U19: 142 all out (39.4 overs) (Nathan Edward 51*, Kevin Wickham 22, Isai Thorne 17; Dhruv Parashar 4/30, Jash Giyanani 3/21)
Man-of-the-Match: Aayan Khan
Result: UAE win by 82 runs
UAE advance to Plate final