ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009 DAY 1 - UAE HAMMER IT HOME

Match Referee Rumesh Ratnayake inspects the Sharjah Stadium wicket and pronounces it "a belter".

People think Twenty20’s a great leveler, on the evidence of this match, you’d have to say that teams with more skill, more variety, and that have the greater ability to mix-things up and set the better fields are always most likely to win. And so it proved as the greater match-play skills of the UAE took apart a largely one-dimensional Singapore side that had made what proved in hindsight and even at the time, the wrong decision in giving UAE first use of the belter of a wicket.

It was a good match on paper before the start; both sides have players who’ve played first-class cricket, both sides are a battle-hardened mix of old and new. UAE the home side, whose once peerless performances in Asia have been challenged in recent years by improving standards across the continent’s other leading teams, against rising stars Singapore who are playing with a great deal of confidence and no little skill these days.

In the end, UAE’s greater match-experience of Twenty20 cricket told, “it’s the perfect format for after-work play in these recessionary times in Dubai, so we play it a lot”, said their physio Chitrala Sudhaker.

The wicket today at Sharjah Cricket Stadium wasn’t in recession or depression, it was full of runs. A hard and bouncy, typically shiny surface with concrete-like tendencies, the ball came on to the bat and tended to fly off it too. UAE’s opener Mohammad Iqbal, thrives on pace and bounce and his first-boundary, a punch through backward-point off Syed Ali was a top-shot. The six over long-off to end the over was even better. The sixes Iqbal and Amjad hit were all huge and much time was lost as balls were retrieved from the banks of seating. UAE were 60-0 after 5, 100-0 after 9. 250 looked on, maybe even 300.

The centurion, Amjad Javed

Amjad Javed gave a sharp caught and bowled in the third over, after that the sweet sound of leather on willow was increasingly in evidence, less sonorously so after each of his four changes of bat. Even his mis-hits cleared the boundary and with seven 6s and ten 4s he passed 100 off 52 balls.

Singapore’s bowling had it not been short or over-pitched would have been hit, that’s how Iqbal and Amjad play. But Singapore were below par with the ball and in the field and with even their slow-bowlers firing the ball through without getting any purchase off the wicket, the batsmen could just stand and swing the bat freely.

UAE’s batsmen showed their aptitude for the game by taking quick singles whenever they couldn’t get the ball through, or over, the infield. They had options for every delivery and though after Iqbal’s and Amjad’s departures the others couldn’t impose themselves as aggressively, UAE’s 219 was a formidable score.

Singapore lost early on but After 5 overs Singapore were 47-1, after 10 they were 97-2, in between Buddhika Mendis and Chaminda Ruwan having put up a 77-run partnership off 42 balls. Singapore needed to score just over two runs per delivery from now on in, and as long as Mendis was in, it looked like they would be able to do it he was sitting so cleanly, so crisply. But he perished for 51 and the wheels fell off the Singapore run-chase.

Mohammad Tauqir’s fast looping offspin, coupled with Fayyaz Ahmed’s, Khurram Khan’s and Ahmed Raza’s twirling left-armers kept snaring the Singapore batsmen who fought gamely but couldn’t make a dent in the imposing total. With five overs to go, Singapore were 130 for 7. Three runs a ball were needed from then on. It didn’t happen.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium remains full of runs though and tomorrow’s match between Singapore and Afghanistan here should also be a run-feast.

ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009
Group A
UAE v Singapore at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Singapore won the toss and elected to field
UAE: 219 for 5 (M.Iqbal 67, A.Javed 115: P.Raja 2-21)
Singapore: 157 off 19.5 overs (B.Mendis 51, C.Ruwan 32; F.Ahmed 3-48, M.Tauqir 2-26, K.Khan 2-15, A.Raza 2-19)
Man of the Match: Amjad Javed (UAE)


ACC Twenty20 Cup 2009