Electing to bat first, the team got a decent opening with Mohammad Iqbal smashing 42 in 26 balls with Raza (21 in 18 balls) and Khurram Khan (16 in 15 balls) also making valuable contributions to the score. Bowlers Moner Ahmed (2-13), Nadeem Ahmed (2-29) and Irfan Ahmed (2-30) then tightened the screws on the batting order to limit the score to 114-8 and late order fireworks by Shoaib Sarwar (13 in 12 balls) helped the home team finish at 137-9 in 20 overs.
In response, Hong Kong batsmen failed to keep the run-flow going under tight UAE bowling and fielding performances. Raza picked up 4-8 and Mohammed Tauqir finished with figures of 2-21 to limit the opposition to 110-9. Hussain Butt (37 in 31 balls) and Moner Ahmed (22 in 37 balls) were the top scorers for the team.
Colin Wells, UAE coach, praised his teams efforts in the victory: I am very excited with this win. Weve had good performances with both bat and ball with a four-wicket haul by Raza being the highlight of the game. Our spinners and active fielding won the match for us today.
We will look into the next game against Saudi Arabia as a fresh challenge since it has also beaten a strong team like Hong Kong in the opening day. It is true that we have a home-ground advantage, but in a Twenty20 game, the match can swing either way, he added.
Hong Kong coach, Afzal Haider, was disappointed after his team lost its second consecutive game in the tournament. He said: It is disappointing that both matches did not go our way so early in the tournament though we put in our best efforts. Our bowling was good today, but we need to improve in our batting performance. Going into the next game, we may shuffle a few players to improve our scoring line-up.
We know we are capable of winning the tournament having won the ACC Trophy 2008 earlier as well. We are well-suited for the Twenty20 format and would like to win this tournament, he added.
In the other game played at the same venue, Malaysia defeated Bahrain by 84 runs to win its second game of the event.
Bahrain won the toss and elected to field, a questionable decision as the Malaysian batsmen made light work of the bowling attack. Openers Damith Warsuwitharne (51 in 33 balls) and Rakesh Mahadevan (35 in 34 balls) put in an excellent opening stand to push the scores to 100-1. Ahmed Faiz (39 not out in 28 balls) and Thushara Kodikara (46 in 14 balls) then added more runs to finish the innings at a massive 218-4 in 20 overs. Bowlers Sarfaraz Ahmed and Huzaifa Mohammed ended picking up a wicket each.
In response, Bahrain was able to score 134-9 in 20 overs with only Mohammed Ashraf making a valuable contribution of 65 runs in 41 balls. Suresh Navarathnam was the pick of the bowlers with his figures of 3-39 followed by Thushara Kodikara (2-26) and Eszrafiq Ramly (2-22).
Malaysia captain, Suhan Alagaratnam, was excited to win against Bahrain after losing to the same team in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 6 in Singapore. He said: We had lost to Bahrain earlier in Division 6 by run-rate and the team is happy to get back in this game.
Damith and Thushara helped build up a huge total and our bowlers were effective in defending the score. We displayed an all-round performance today considering most of our players in our current squad are under-19 players.
According to Bahrain skipper, Mirza Rizwan Baig, lack of effective spinners in the team contributed to the teams defeat. He said: Our current squad lacks quality spinners and our bowlers are mainly medium pacers. Our team for the tournament is made up of youngsters, with senior players focusing on WCL Division 5 event in Nepal next year, but we consider this event to be a good exposure for the younger squad.
At Al Dhaid Cricket Village, Sharjah:
UAE v Hong Kong
UAE 137-9, 20 overs (Mohammad Iqbal 42; Moner Ahmed 2-13)
Hong Kong 110-9, 20 overs (Hussain Butt 37; Ahmed Raza 4-8)
UAE won by 27 runs
Bahrain v Malaysia
Malaysia 218-4, 20 overs (Damith Warsuwitharne 51; Huzaifa Mohammed 1-29)
Bahrain 134-9, 20 overs (Mohammed Ashraf 65; Suresh Navarathnam 3-39)
Malaysia won by 8