UAE men’s cricket team sets example for non-Test-playing nations

UAE men’s cricket team sets example for non-Test-playing nations
Basil Hameed of UAE plays a shot during the third T20I Cricket match between New Zealand and UAE at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on August 20, 2023. (AFP filephoto)
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Updated 26 August 2023

UAE men’s cricket team sets example for non-Test-playing nations

UAE men’s cricket team sets example for non-Test-playing nations
  • In the latest victory by an associate nation over a full member, the UAE powered to a 7-wicket win over New Zealand

The potential for upset and shock is one of fascination in any sport.

In cricket, this relates mainly to opportunities for so-called associate members of the International Cricket Council to defeat one of the ICC’s 12 full members.

However, this is not exclusively the case, as a victory for a lower-ranked full member over a top-ranked one counts as an upset, especially if it happens in a Test match. As these are played only between full members, the opportunities for associate members to “giant kill” are limited to the shorter formats.

Analysis of all World Cups played in both one-day, or ODI, and T20I formats reveals that it is rare for a non-Test-playing associate nation to defeat a Test-playing one. In 12 ODI World Cups since 1975, there have been 13 occasions. This represents only 9 percent of the opportunities for so doing. Ireland, which became a full member in 2017, caused four upsets during its associate years.

In the 2007 ODI World Cup, Ireland shocked and eliminated Pakistan in a three-wicket victory in Jamaica. It was Ireland’s first win over a team with Test-match status. Another shock in that tournament was the five-wicket defeat of India by Bangladesh. This caused India’s elimination at the group stage, an outcome that has not subsequently recurred.

It is always a delight for the Irish to defeat England, at whatever sport.

It has more success at rugby than cricket but, in the 2011 ODI World Cup, its team beat England in a manner that will be remembered forever in Ireland. Staring defeat in the face at 111 for five halfway through its innings in pursuit of 328, Ireland was propelled to victory by Kevin O’Brien, who smashed 100 from 50 deliveries. This remains the fastest century in ODI World Cup history.

Kenya has also caused four upsets, including a shock victory in 1996 over the West Indies. In 2003, when the tournament was co-hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, it went further, defeating Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. These victories, coupled with a walkover against New Zealand, who forfeited the match owning to security concerns in Nairobi, elevated Kenya to the semifinals. This made them the only non-Test-playing nation to reach that stage of the tournament. There was no continuation of the fairytale, as India won by 91 runs. Kenya qualified for the 2007 and 2011 ODI World Cups, but not for those in 2015 and 2019.

The low proportion of victories for associate members over full members in ODI World Cups is matched by the proportion in T20I World Cups. In the eight T20I tournaments, associates have beaten full members on 13 occasions, or 11 percent of the matchups. In the inaugural T20I World Cup in 2007, Zimbabwe beat Australia with one ball to spare, whilst Bangladesh triumphed over the West Indies by six wickets, eliminating them from the competition.

The Netherlands has claimed four of the 13 victories over full members. These included two in the 2022 tournament over South Africa and Zimbabwe. Namibia beat Sri Lanka and Scotland beat the West Indies, making the four associate victories over full members the highest ever in T20I World Cups. In the same tournament, Ireland claimed another win over England by five runs in a rain-curtailed match. This was England’s only loss on the way to becoming champions.

Surprises are to be expected. Predicting them is difficult and explaining them can be even trickier. A stronger team may suffer injuries to key players, pitch or weather conditions may provide advantages to a less-strong team, winning the toss may prove crucial, or the stronger team may not be united on the day. In the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, England’s team was in some disarray. By the time of the final group stage match it had failed to qualify for the semifinals. The Netherlands took full advantage of England’s discomfort to win by 45 runs.

The victory had echoes of a previous encounter in the 2009 T20I World Cup group match at Lords when the Dutch, needing two runs to win off the last ball, secured victory by virtue of an overthrow. Complacency was given as an explanation for the losses.

Associate nations have beaten full members outside of World Cup competitions. The latest of these victories was achieved on Aug. 19 by the UAE against New Zealand, who slumped to 65 for five, courtesy of 17-year-old leg spinner, Aayan Afzal Khan, who claimed career-best figures of three for 20. New Zealand rallied to 142 for eight in 20 overs, but the UAE powered to a seven-wicket victory, with 26 deliveries to spare. Muhammad Waseem, the captain, led the way with 55, whilst Asif Khan, batting at number four, scored an unbeaten 48.

This was the UAE’s third-ever international match against New Zealand and its first victory against them. It was also New Zealand’s first loss against a non-Test-playing nation in 39 matches.

This loss could have occurred in the opening match of the three-match series, when New Zealand totaled 155 for six. Aryansh Sharma made an impressive T20I debut for the UAE, scoring 60, but when his wicket fell on 115 at the end of the 15th over, the UAE’s innings fell away to 136 all out against experienced bowlers. In the final match, that experience was restored as the UAE were restricted to 134 for seven when chasing a target of 167.

There were no excuses from the New Zealand camp about their defeat in the second match and a denial that they had taken their opponents too lightly. Indeed, quite the opposite. After the match, its captain, Tim Southee, remarked: “A lot of the credit has to go to the UAE team. They outplayed us in all three facets.”

Although New Zealand did have its strongest squad available for the series, the UAE’s performance suggests that associate teams are becoming more capable of causing upsets.

NBA, Mavericks and Timberwolves to engage with youth players in UAE

NBA, Mavericks and Timberwolves to engage with youth players in UAE
Updated 02 October 2023

NBA, Mavericks and Timberwolves to engage with youth players in UAE

NBA, Mavericks and Timberwolves to engage with youth players in UAE
  • ‘Jr. NBA Week’ will return to Abu Dhabi and bring together more than 2,500 youth and 250 coaches from the local community and region
  • The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 presented by ADQ will feature the Mavericks and Timberwolves facing off twice at Etihad Arena

ABU DHABI: The National Basketball Association has announced a series of social impact programming for youth, coaches and basketball stakeholders that will be hosted in collaboration with the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 presented by ADQ.

The week of activities, which will be highlighted by the return of Jr. NBA Week to Abu Dhabi following its debut in 2022, will run from Monday Oct. 2 until Sunday, Oct. 8 and reach more than 2,500 youth and 250 coaches from the UAE and across the Middle East and Europe. 

Jr. NBA Week will feature youth clinics and basketball development programming focused on teaching the game, promoting health and wellness, and empowering the next generation of players, coaches and referees, and will feature appearances by Mavericks and Timberwolves players and coaches, NBA and WNBA legends, and USA Basketball Youth and Sport Development coach director, Don Showalter.

The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2023 will feature the Mavericks and the Timberwolves playing two preseason games at Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 7.

The event follows last year’s preseason games between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, which marked the league’s first games in the Arabian Gulf.  

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend
Updated 02 October 2023

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend
  • Six squads finalized through a Player Draft are competing in the 18-match contest in Dubai
  • Preparations for DP World ILT20 season 2 in full swing following the success of first edition

DUBAI: The Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels have recorded impressive wins in the opening weekend of the ILT20 Development Tournament.

The contest is aimed at providing an opportunity for UAE players to grab 13 spots still up for grabs in the DP World ILT20 season two.

In the tournament opener, player of the match Usman Khan’s unbeaten 68 off 52 balls (nine fours, one six) ensured a comfortable seven wicket win for the Blitzers. The 115-run chase was delivered without any major hiccups, with 20 balls to spare.

Earlier, the Marvels lost opener Mayank Choudhry on the tournament’s very first ball, and struggled to get going in their innings after being asked to bat first. Young all-rounder Aayan Afzal Khan top-scored with 24 runs while captain Basil Hameed scored 20. Uzair Khan and Muhammad Zubair took three wickets each as the Marvels were bowled out for 114 in 18.1 overs.

The Pearls recorded a 19-run win against the Dynamos in the second match on Saturday — a competitive 151 for eight in their 20 overs. Asked to bat first, the Pearls were well served by their opener Aryansh Sharma who scored a blazing 63 off 41 balls with the help of six fours and two sixes. All-rounder Zawar Farid (player of the match) had a memorable game as he first contributed 26 useful runs with the bat in a 42-run fifth wicket partnership with Aryansh before taking four wickets with the ball.

The Dynamos got off to a flying start but failed to maintain the momentum as wickets fell at regular intervals. Opener Samal Udawaththa top scored with 28, and Muhammad Shahdad made a 23-run contribution. Zawar gave away a mere 20 runs in his 3.4 overs for his four wickets. Adhitya Shetty was also impressive with the ball, at three for 27.

In the opening match on Sunday and third of the tournament, Asif Khan’s 87 not out (59 balls, six fours, six sixes) for the Braves went in vain as the Thunderbolts powered through the 166-run chase for the loss of five wickets.

The Braves were asked to bat first and posted a competitive 165-run total on the back of Asif’s blazing innings, the opener hitting some lusty blows to propel his side past the 160-run mark. Junaid Shamzu smashed 31 off 10 balls (two fours, three sixes) in an unbroken 65-run alliance with Asif.

The Thunderbolts chased down the runs courtesy of an unbeaten 19-ball 45 by Ansh Tandon. The left-hander hit two fours and five sixes in his brilliant innings. Captain Rohan Mustafa scored 43 off 36 balls (six fours), and the Thunderbolts completed the chase with three balls left. Haider Ali took two wickets.

The Marvels registered their first win when they defeated the Pearls by seven wickets in the second match on Sunday. Batting first, the Marvels could only manage a paltry 121-run total. Player of the match Muhammad Zuhaib and Aayan Afzal Khan took four and three wickets respectively as the Marvels struggled to get going.

The 122-run chase was duly completed by the Marvels in 17.2 overs. Opener Mayank Choudhry top-scored with 47 off 49 balls (five fours, one six), and captain Rahul Chopra scored an unbeaten 31 off 23.

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol
Updated 02 October 2023

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol
  • The Portuguese legend is the record goalscorer of the UEFA Champions League with 140

Al-Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo will look to get his AFC Champions League goalscoring account up and running on Monday night when the Riyadh giants welcome Istiklol of Tajikistan to Al-Awwal Park in the second round of matches in Group E.

The Portuguese legend is the all-time record goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 140, in a career that saw him win the competition once with Manchester United and four times with Real Madrid.

The match will be Ronaldo’s third in Asia’s premier club competition, having taken part in a successful qualifier against Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai, and on Group E Matchday 1 against Persepolis of Iran, which Al-Nassr won 2-0.

Ronaldo is currently the top scorer in the Roshn Saudi League with 10 goals, four ahead of his nearest challengers, after eight rounds of matches.

Andersson takes individual title, Team Abu Dhabi cling on to their team championship for now

Andersson takes individual title, Team Abu Dhabi cling on to their team championship for now
Updated 02 October 2023

Andersson takes individual title, Team Abu Dhabi cling on to their team championship for now

Andersson takes individual title, Team Abu Dhabi cling on to their team championship for now
  • UAE’s Al-Qemzi cousins take the fight to Sharjah as Swedes close in on their team crown

SARDINIA: Sweden’s Jonas Andersson clinched the UIM F1H2O World Championship for the second time on Sunday with a convincing victory in the Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy.

Andersson’s start-to-finish success in Olbia also puts Team Sweden in a strong position to secure the team title won for the last five times by Team Abu Dhabi.

While the defending champions had a disappointing day in Olbia, with Thani Al-Qemzi finishing eighth and Rashid Al-Qemzi 10th, they will still take the fight into December’s final round in Sharjah, which has produced many dramatic finishes over the years.

Andersson was crowned champion in Sardinia after an impressive third successive Grand Prix victory, cruising home from Frenchman Peter Morin, with Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen taking the third podium spot to go second in the championship standings.

The Dutchman will now look to secure the silver medal in Sharjah, although he can expect to come under pressure from his two closest challengers, Victory Team’s Erik Stark and Morin.

After his pole position success yesterday, Andersson looked in complete control following his superb start to take an immediate lead, which he never looked like surrendering.

Stark instantly swept past Italy’s Alberto Comparato to initially grab second place, but later dropped back to fifth and slipped to third in the championship.

Team Abu Dhabi’s two Emirati drivers were unable to recover from their qualifying setbacks. Thani Al-Qemzi, winner in Olbia last year, gained one place from his starting position but could not mount a climb through the field.

After securing his fourth F2 world title earlier this month, Rashed-Al Qemzi had problems at the start of the qualifying sprint race, and while he could not find a recovery, has clearly shown himself to be a rising star in top level powerboat racing.

The championship now reaches its conclusion Dec. 8 to 10 in Sharjah, which over the years has provided some dramatic finishes, and twice brought triumph for Team Abu Dhabi at Andersson’s expense.

In 1999, Shaun Torrente retained his UIM F1H2O world title when he edged out the Swede on a countback after Andersson won the Grand Prix on Khaled Lagoon. Two years ago, Team Abu Dhabi’s Torrente won his third drivers’ title in Sharjah after technical problems forced Andersson’s late retirement.

UIM F1H2O World Championship leading points positions:

1. Jonas Andersson 63 (champion)

2. Ferdinand Zandbergen 39

3. Erik Stark 35

4. Peter Morin 33

5. Thani Al-Qemzi 22

6. Bartek Marszalek 20

7. Shaun Torrente 17

8. Filip Roms 16

9. Sami Selio 15

10. Brent Dillard 13

Team standings:

1. Team Sweden 65

2. Sharjah Team 54

3. China CTIC Team 46

4. Abu Dhabi Team 44

5. Victory 38


India ready to raise curtain on Cricket World Cup

India ready to raise curtain on Cricket World Cup
Updated 02 October 2023

India ready to raise curtain on Cricket World Cup

India ready to raise curtain on Cricket World Cup
  • The World Cup features 10 nations playing 48 matches over 46 days at 10 different venues
  • India will face Pakistan on October 14, arguably the tournament’s most anticipated clash

NEW DELHI: India target a third World Cup when cricket’s global showpiece gets underway on Thursday with the country buoyed by a growing, international self-confidence and with a sport which unites and divides the sub-continent like no other on the verge of joining the Olympic elite.

The epic tournament features 10 nations playing 48 matches over 46 days at 10 different venues.

However, the build-up has been far from smooth after arch-rivals Pakistan considered a boycott when India refused to travel across the border for the Asia Cup.

As a result, the announcement of the schedule for the World Cup was delayed until just three months before the first ball was to be bowled.

Fears over security for the India-Pakistan World Cup blockbuster in Ahmedabad then saw the match moved back a day, sparking a domino effect of nine rescheduled fixtures.

Pakistan’s visit to India is their first since the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup but they were welcomed warmly when they arrived in Hyderabad last week despite only receiving visas just 48 hours before their departure.

“It’s been a superb welcome. People coming to the hotel and their hospitality has been fantastic,” said leg-spinner Shadab Khan.

In an indication of the security tensions, Pakistan’s opening warm-up match with New Zealand on Friday was played behind closed doors at an eerily silent 55,000-capacity Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

Torrential rain has also caused an early headache with two warm-up games abandoned without a ball being bowled and a third a reduced overs affair.

The opening match on Thursday between champions England and New Zealand as well as the final on November 19 are being staged at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, named after the prime minister, the world’s biggest cricket arena boasting a capacity of over 130,000.

India will face Pakistan at the mega-venue on October 14.

The city which independence hero Mahatma Gandhi called home for 15 years is tipped as a potential host city should India bid for the 2036 Olympics.

Cricket itself — albeit in its short-format T20 — is expected to be named an Olympic sport for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles when the International Olympic Committee meets in Mumbai later this month.

The gathering of the best players of India’s favorite game will be the sporting culmination of a year that saw India overtake China as the world’s most populous country, after displacing former colonizer Britain as its fifth-biggest economy in 2021.

Now Modi is seeking a place on the global stage to match.

Courted by the West — despite rights concerns — as a bulwark against Beijing, the prime minister used the G20 summit he hosted this month as a catalyst to position New Delhi as a representative of many others outside traditional power blocs.

His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is widely regarded as a certainty to win next year’s general election by a crushing majority.

India are two-time champions having added the 2011 title on home soil to their 1983 triumph.

They boast superstar Virat Kohli who has made more than 13,000 runs in the ODI format.

“The memories of past World Cup victories, especially the iconic 2011 win, are etched in our hearts, and we want to create new memories for our fans,” said Kohli.

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, have lost seven times out of seven to India at past World Cups.

However, skipper Babar Azam will be key to turning around that run as he leads the way in the batting rankings. His average of over 58 betters even that of Kohli.

Defending champions England, who triumphed in a nail-biting 2019 final against New Zealand at Lord’s, can harness the destructive firepower of Ben Stokes who smashed 84 in that game which went to a Super Over conclusion.

The tournament will likely see the farewell ODI performance of Bangladesh skipper Shakib al Hasan, the top-ranked all-rounder in ODI cricket.

The 36-year-old has made more than 7,000 runs in the format with 55 half-centuries and 308 wickets.

Never far from controversy, Shakib arrives in India after a public spat with axed batsman Tamim Iqbal who he blasted as “childish.”

Australia are five-time champions and boast veteran David Warner who has amassed over 6,300 ODI runs.

South Africa, who have endured a roller-coaster relationship with the World Cup, undone by rain rules in 1992 and 2003, have also been hit by injuries, losing key pacers Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala.

For Afghanistan, slow bowlers Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who made his international debut at 16, and Noor Ahmad will be key on welcoming Indian pitches.

Sri Lanka, the 1996 winners, will be fired up by the indignity of being bowled out for just 50 and losing the Asia Cup final to India by 10 wickets.

Netherlands complete the line-up and are match-tough after negotiating the qualifying round in July where two-time champions West Indies crashed out.