Bravehearts UAE go down fighting as New Zealand win T20 series - GulfToday

Bravehearts UAE go down fighting as New Zealand win T20 series


Members of the New Zealand team pose with the trophy after winning the third T20I Cricket match against UAE at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. AFP

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

New Zealand staged a comeback and pounced on UAE like a wounded lion but failed to intimidate young Aayan Afzal Khan albeit winning the third T20 by 32 runs in Dubai.

Riding on the fifties of Mark Chapman and Bill Young, New Zealand posted an impressive total of 166/5 and restricted UAE to 134/7 to win the match and series 2-1, after being defeated in the last match.

Chasing, UAE got off to a faltering start as they lost the wicket of captain Mohammad Waseem early with just eight runs on the board.

Waseem, after hitting two consecutive boundaries, played a reckless shot. He came down the pitch to slog it over the mid-wicket, trying to drag the ball from off-stump line. The ball took a thin edge and straightaway landed in the wicketkeeper’s hands.

From there on, UAE could not recover and kept on losing the wickets at regular intervals. Vriitya Arvind and Aryansh Sharma tried to consolidate the inning and led a brief fightback with a 21-run stand for the second wicket.

When they were looking set, Arvind also played a reckless shot and dragged a delivery from outside the off-stumps to find a fielder at short mid-wicket. Sharma was quick to follow as he failed to recreate the same magic as that of the first match, when he hit a gritty fifty.

NZ-vs-UAE-T20-750x450New Zealand’s Will Young (left) and Mark Chapman take a run during their third T20I match against UAE at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. AFP

Asif Khan and Ansh Tandon also followed suit and threw away their wickets cheaply. The UAE batting did not look like a pale shadow of themselves. They were tottering at 53/5 in just eight overs. They needed someone to play a big innings to save them blushes if not the match and the series.

But Aayan Afzal Khan, the architect of UAE victory in the second match, had different plans. He took the onus on himself and started leading the charge.

He smashed New Zealand bowlers all over the ground and shared a 68-run partnership with Basil Hameed for the sixth wicket to all but lead a brief but brave fightback. He was waging the war single-handedly.

Basil supported him well but consumed too many deliveries as the run rate spiralled. Aayan missed his fifty by eight runs but won the hearts of the people. UAE could muster 134/.

Earlier, Young and Chapman batted with resolute and added 84 runs for the third wicket to lay down the foundation for a fighting total after the openers had failed to give a good start to the New Zealand once again.

Both the openers, Chad Bowes and Tim Siefert could not convert their starts into big scores. For Bowes, it turned out to be a miserable series as he scored 0, 21 and nine in three innings.

Siefert, who smashed a fifty in the first match, could not repeat the feat in the next two. Muhammad Jawadullah had Bowes caught by Zahoor Khan to give the UAE first breakthrough with just 13 runs on the board.

They lost the wicket of Seifert, when Junaid Siddique had him caught for his first scalp of the day before Chapman and Young took the charge in their hands.

Chapman, who scored a fighting fifty in the previous match, picked up from where he left. He batted fearlessly and used his feet well against the spinners of the UAE.

Both the batsmen dominated the UAE bowlers but Chapman was more brutal. He took on them and played his shots with confidence, smashing a 32-ball 51 with the help of five boundaries and two towering sixes.

Chapman brought up his fifty with a couple off Hameed. Seeing his partner, Young also changed his gears and started to cut loose. He also scored a timely fifty as the duo brought the innings back on the track.

When the duo was batting, New Zealand looked set to score somewhere around 180. It was Junaid Siddiqui, who led the UAE fight back with a superb bowling performance. He struck twice in quick succession to get rid of both the batsmen and bring some respite in the UAE camp.

Junaid broke the dangerous-looking partnership by getting rid of Young. Young holed out to Mohammad Farazuddin. His innings was studded with seven fours and one six. His dismissal brought the UAE back in the game but Chapman was still standing tall.

Junaid struck again in his next over and sent back Chapman. He was caught by Arvind while trying to work the ball down the third-man. By the time, Chapman got out, damage was done. New Zealand had already reached 135/4 in just 16 overs.

With four overs to spare and six wickets in hand, New Zealand had their sights set on a big score. Mitchell Santner played a quick-fire cameo of 11-ball 20 to take the score to 166/5.

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