Left-arm spinner Sultan Ahmed’s 3 for 33, including the prized scalp of Steven Taylor, helped UAE hold off USA’s pursuit of 183 in a 24-run win at ICC Academy in Dubai.
Bowling with the new ball, Sultan struck his first blow in the fourth over when he had a charging Monank Patel stumped down the leg side for 8. Fast bowler Zahoor Khan took another key wicket off the final ball of the Powerplay when Ahmed Raza took a sensational diving catch on the run at deep midwicket to remove Jaskaran Malhotra for 21 to make it 37 for 2.
As a stiff breeze picked up blowing across the ground, UAE’s bowlers excelled at keeping the ball wide of the stumps to deny USA opportunities to lift the ball into the air to clear the short boundary on the west side of the ground. Instead, they forced the USA batsmen to hit into the wind towards the much bigger boundary to the west. While USA added 99 runs when UAE bowlers were bowling into the wind, USA only added 59 runs hitting into the wind.
While Taylor and Marshall added 72 for the third wicket, their struggles adjusting to the windy conditions meant the stand stretched across nine overs as neither batsman was able to find the boundary with regularity. By the time Marshall was well caught by Sultan at deep midwicket to start the 16th over, USA needed 74 off 29 balls.
With pressure mounting, Roy Silva tried his best to seize the wind, shuffling across his stumps to flick Sultan over fine leg at the start of the 17th, but in his attempt to repeat the shot on Sultan’s next legal delivery, he failed to get the elevation and picked out Ashfaq Ahmed on the ring. Four balls later, Taylor charged Sultan and creamed a drive flat to Shaiman Anwar on the cover boundary for 49 to effectively end USA’s chances at 129 for 5 after 17 overs. Zahoor took the ball for the final over with USA needing 32 and a slower ball yanked to long-on by Elmore Hutchinson off the second ball of the 20th over mathematically sealed it for UAE.
Shaiman’s crucial catch to dismiss Taylor followed his 62 off 30 balls that earned him the Player-of-the-Match honors. Arriving in the second over after Ashfaq was caught behind edging a drive off Jessy Singh, Shaiman added 81 for the second wicket with Rohan Mustafa in brisk time. Mustafa was the aggressor early in their stand, punching Hutchinson for three consecutive fours between cover and mid-off to start the fifth over.
After a methodical start, the arrival of legspinner Timil Patel brought out the best in Shaiman. He hammered USA’s all-time leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket for a pair of sixes over the leg side in the eighth over, then drove him over long-on for three consecutive sixes in the 14th, the first of which brought up a 26-ball half-century.
Timil finally got his revenge off the fifth ball of the over, dragging his length back for Shaiman to scoop a catch to Silva at long-on, but by that stage UAE were in a commanding position. USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar produced a fantastic death spell which claimed two wickets in the 18th to give USA hope, but Raza’s straight six off Jessy Singh began a 12-run 20th over to ensure the hosts had more than enough runs in the bank.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.