First semi-final playoff: UAE 80/9 (Raza 22; Glover 4/12, van Meekeran 2/13, van der Gugten 2/10) lost to Netherlands 81/2 off 15.1 overs (B. Cooper 41*; Khan 1/12) by 8 wickets with 29 balls remaining.
An opening barrage from the Netherlands pace attack left the UAE top order in tatters, as the tournament hosts picked a bad time to go missing. With a win enough to see them to the T20 World Cup in Australia, UAE will instead be relying on their second-chance playoff against Scotland tomorrow after being comprehensively thrashed.
Returning left-arm seamer Fred Klaassen struck the first blow with the new ball against Rohan Mustafa, who was cleaned up by Canada’s left-armer Romesh Eranga in the previous game. It was an impatient dismissal that set the tone for the innings, with Mustafa backing away to make room to hit through off, but only succeeded in slicing it high in the air. Klaassen took the catch almost next to the batsman, and the Dutch were away.
Paul van Meekeren’s next over turned a good start into an excellent one, as he made full use of the bounce on offer in the fresh Dubai track. Straight off the bus from Abu Dhabi, where the decks had been more conducive to spin, the UAE batsmen looked outgunned. Van Meekeren’s first ball crashed into the helmet of Zawar Farid as he was through a pull shot noticeably late, then 2 wickets fell on the last 2 balls of the over. Van Meekeren had Rameez Shahzad and Mohammad Usman both out edging to keeper Scott Edwards off back-of-a-length deliveries in the channel, and UAE were in trouble at 3/3 off 2 overs.
Next, Brandon Glover replaced Klaassen and turned it into a demolition job – trapping Darius D’Silva plumb LBW as he attempted to work it through leg, then next over benefiting from another failed pull shot by Farid, who miscued a bouncer that cramped him for room and gave a simple chance to the skipper Piet Seelar running around from midwicket towards square leg. At 9/5 after 5 overs, the first priority for Waheed Ahmed and Mohammad Boota simply to bat time.
They did mount a limping recovery of sorts, as Seelar dialled back the attacking fields and brought on his spinners, but when Glover returned in the 14th he dismissed both of them on his way to career-best figures of 4/12. First ball, Waheed was caught on the rope at fine leg as he didn’t get enough on the hook, then last ball Boota was done for pace, feathering an edge on his attempted pull shot as the ball sizzled past. Another mini-recovery of 34 between UAE skipper Ahmed Raza and Sultan Ahmed briefly frustrated the Netherlands, as both men swung powerfully into the stands over cow corner, but Timm van der Gugten mopped up in consecutive balls to choke off their late flurry. At 80/9 off 20 overs, the UAE would need a miracle to defend against the powerful Netherlands batting lineup.
The miracle never materialised, though Max O’Dowd’s wicket resembled an offering to Janus, Roman god of gates, as he was bowled by Mustafa attempting a complacent drive against one that spun back through the wide-open gap between bat and pad. The rather less pious Colin Ackermann joined Ben Cooper, and the pair set about reeling in the meagre target.
Despite the early boost, UAE’s bowlers looked beaten as Cooper and Ackermann cruised – perhaps conserving their energy for the all-or-nothing eliminator against Scotland tomorrow. Singles flowed, and Ben Cooper started using his feet to smack boundaries on both sides of the wicket as they reached the 50 partnership without much trouble. Ackermann eventually fell for 18 (18) to a well-executed catch by Junaid Siddique off Zahoor Khan, as he ran around the rope at third man to pouch an uppercut that sailed to him with some pace. But by then it was all but over.
Cooper and new man Ryan ten Doeschate doddled the rest of the chase in a clinical display and when Cooper clipped Zawar Farid for a single through backward square on the first ball of the 16th, the Netherlands had sealed their place in Australia next year. Smiles and hugs all round for the Dutch and a steely resignation from Ahmed Raza, whose men face a difficult task tomorrow in their all-or-nothing clash against the high-quality but inconsistent Scots.
While they will certainly lose if they play as badly as they did today, Raza will look to replicate the remarkable turnaround that saw them bounce back from an abject defeat to Oman with a strong victory over Ireland.