CWC League 2: USA 213 (Aaron Jones 46, Nisarg Patel 40, Akshay Homraj 34 – Darius D’Silva 7-1-20-2, Zahoor Khan 8.5-0-47-2) defeated UAE 115 (Basil Hammed 38, Vriitya Aravind 23 – Saurabh Netravalkar 9-4-11-3, Ian Holland 4-1-11-3, Cameron Stevenson 7-1-22-3) by 98 runs.
Game 4 of the third round of the ICC CWC League 2 brought about one of the key upsets – USA scored a resounding 98-run win against UAE, the hosts. USA now has extended their lead, with 6 wins and a loss after 7 games.
After sending the visitors out to bat first, UAE drew first blood early, when seamer Zahoor Khan squared up and bowled Monank Patel. Following a tight and accurate spell of seam, the lack of pace soon proved to be the pivotal factor. After a few flashy boundaries, Steven Taylor holed out to long-on off Rohan Mustafa’s offspin.
As opener Xavier Marshall was looking to consolidate, Darius D’Silva’s medium pace trapped him plumb in front with a skiddy delivery that went straight on. D’Silva would strike once more three overs later when Ian Holland picked out point with his uppish square drive. At 71-4, the innings seemed to be in a tricky predicament, but a steady 69-run partnership between Aaron Jones, who’s known to be the middle-order bulwark, and the new wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Homraj, steadied the ship. Boundaries were hard to find, but milking singles and consistent running between the wickets ensured that USA was well in pursuit of a competitive total on a relatively slower track.
Additionally, a handy 49-ball 40 from Nisarg Patel propelled the sluggish run-rate, and more importantly, Patel adeptly accompanied the tail following the dismissals of Jones (46 off 61) and Homraj (34 off 59). USA folded for 215 with a ball to spare, and on this ground, it may not have been an ideal score but it definitely was something to bowl at. Wickets were quite evenly spread out for UAE, but Darius D’Silva topped the bowling figures with 2 for 20 in 7 overs at a tremendous economy rate just under 3.
UPDATED CWC LEAGUE 2 TABLE AFTER USA v UAE ODI HERE.
Steven Taylor bowled the first over, and it was the perfect chance for young Vriitya Aravind to signal his intentions early on. However, he lost his opening partner Chirag Suri, who edged an inswinger from Saurabh Netravalkar to first slip. The early breakthrough didn’t deter Aravind from continuing to counterattack. He flicked two imperious sixes over deep square leg off Rusty Theron.
Captain Netravalkar consistently maintained tight lines in the corridor, and had Darius D’Silva nicking behind to wicketkeeper Homraj in the very next over. Aravind’s fun and games were cut short when he cue-ended a pull shot to mid-on from Cameron Stevenson’s first ball. The hosts’ innings continued to go downhill – two balls later, an inswinger from Stevenson breached Muhammad Usman’s defense. Netravalkar added another wicket to his tally after snaring Rohan Mustafa LBW.
At 32 for 5, it was time to resurrect the innings, especially with not a lot of remaining batting to go. CP Rizwan and Basil Hameed cautiously played out eight overs between them, until Steven Taylor pulled off an athletic catch at slip to send back Rizwan and give Stevenson his third wicket.
Basil Hameed resisted well and made 38, but it was far from enough to give his side a fighting chance. Waheed Ahmed provided useful company and they added 32 together – however, Basil played onto his stumps off a quicker delivery from left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige. Ian Holland successfully polished off the tail with aplomb, also bagging three wickets in the process. UAE was bowled out for a paltry 115, courtesy a domineering all-round performance from USA.
After a decent start at home, the Americans are gaining more and more momentum at the top of the table, registering three consecutive wins in the UAE. Comparing these performances to those from previous UAE tours is proof that the team has markedly improved in leaps and bounds as a unit. There’s one more game left – the rematch against Scotland, who were thought of to be a relatively stronger side. The last game against Scotland was a priceless 35-run win for USA, but then again, there’s plenty to play for, and every single game is crucial.
UAE has found it difficult to take advantage of home conditions, mainly due to the scarcity of experience. At the same time, it’s a perfect opportunity to groom the youngsters in the team for the upcoming eight rounds over the course of the next three years. Two more interesting games are awaiting us – will team USA continue to ascend, or will Scotland throw a wrench in the works? Will UAE pick up the pieces after a tricky start or will this final stretch be the catalyst for the Scotsmen?
WATCH IT LIVE HERE.