ACC Premier Cup Playoffs: UAE clinch Asia Cup berth, Hong Kong and Oman to Emerging Teams Asia Cup

UAE captain Muhammad Waseem raises high his bat and helmet after scoring a century in the ACC Premier Cup finals. Photo credit: Asian Cricket Council

Napoleon Bonaparte symbolised the mastermind of conquest and titan of leadership. 

A French kingpin famed for his brilliance on the battlefield, Napoleon was celebrated for his rapid assessment and decisive execution. His unwavering determination earned him the admiration of his soldiers and his nation.

And amid the chaos of war, Napoleon’s visionary leadership instilled unshakeable hope in his troops.  

“A leader is a dealer in hope,” the commander once said, embodying his sentiment. 

So while Napoleon’s reign on the battlefield waned in 1814, its spirit found new life nearly centuries later – this time, on the cricket field – and devoid of the negativity occasionally associated with Napoleon’s legacy.

UAE’s Muhammad Waseem took charge. The stage was the 2024 ACC Premier Cup and the result was synonymous to Napoleon’s – an expansion of UAE’s cricketing empire and glory for his nation. 

“He’s one of the best T20I batsmen in the world,” commentators announced. “Not just in the Associate format.” 

The Player of the Tournament – and second only to teammate Alishan Sharafu in runs scored – snatched his Napoleon-like status when UAE solidified its appearance in the 2025 Asia Cup.

It was a do-or-die stage: A victory over an unbeaten Oman unit would launch UAE to the revered Asia Cup, a loss would relegate them back to the drawing boards. 

When Waseem entered his crease for his 100th run during the match, he bowed down to perform sajdah. He hoisted his bat and helmet toward his team’s dugout, a thunderous applause echoed through Oman Cricket ground.  

The tournament’s inaugural century mark was carved in. And the tournament’s winning captain was the woodworker. 

Waseem’s 100-run assault against Oman didn’t just pad the scorecard – his Napoleon-esque stability and fortitude granted his team the courage to unleash.  

“Muhammad Waseem is giving his team the licence and liberty to just go ballistic,” commentators announced. 

Alongside Waseem, 21-year-old Alishan Sharafu – the tournament’s leading run scorer – catapulted UAE to 10 runs an over near the halfway mark. Vishnu Sukumaran briefly took over, after which Asif Khan responded to Waseem’s offer. 

Khan blasted five boundaries and soared two maximums in his unbeaten 38-run, 16-ball stint to buttress UAE’s 204-run total. 

Hunting down 200-plus runs has become a well-trodden path in cricket – challenging, but within the realm of possibility.

But the realm – a figurative one – recedes into the distance when two wickets tumble in the opening over of a chase. And the realm might be entirely out of sight when six wickets fall in the former half. 

A fleeting 4.5-over partnership was the longest Oman could concoct as it handed UAE the entry ticket to the Asia Cup. 

UAE batsmen converge on the pitch to fist bump one another. Photo credit: Asian Cricket Council


With victories over Nepal and Hong Kong in the semi-final, respectively, UAE and Oman qualified to the tournament’s final showcase. 

In the first semi-final, Sundeep Jora single-handedly offset the lacklustre 13-run performance of Nepal’s top order – which had faltered throughout the tournament’s playoff rounds – with a half-century. But paired with just two other double-digit tallies, Nepal’s total halted at 119 – insufficient for UAE’s top order, itself. 

Sharafu, who slapped 30-plus runs to the scoresheets on four occasions through the tournament, showcased his mettle with an unbeaten 55 in the semi-finals. Remaining steadfast through the chase, his composed innings guided UAE to seize victory with six wickets in hand. 

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Oman’s semi-final duel galvanised the two-way entry of Aqib Ilyas – Oman’s all-rounder linchpin whose three wickets and 3.50 economy rate expelled Hong Kong’s illustrious batting trifecta in Anshuman Rath, Nizakat Khan and Babar Hayat. 

In Oman’s chase of 130 runs, early heroics from Hong Kong’s pace action had its opposition reeling with four wickets down in the eighth over. But an unconquered 5.3-over surge propelled Oman from 91 to 132 – courtesy of 10 runs in the final two balls – and to victory. 

Third-place playoff

ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup qualification was also dictated by the Premier Cup. The top-three finishers – the first of which would also enter the Asia Cup – would earn their passage to the Emerging Teams Asia Cup, a List A ODI tournament created to enlarge and enhance Asia’s budding nations. 

So although the elusive holy grail may have slipped out of reach, Hong Kong and Nepal redirected their focus to a new orbit. 

Hong Kong succumbed to arguably its worst loss against Nepal in the round-robin format. But no, the cyclic nature of Napoleon’s historical patterns did not spin around this time. 

Ayush Shukla – who picked up his third first-over wicket in as many games – handily dismantled Nepal’s triumvirate of Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh and Sompal Kami before the powerplay drew to a close.

Hong Kong’s synchronised effort with the ball – featuring additional scalps from Ateeq Iqbal, Yasim Murtaza and Ehsan Khan – coupled with back-to-back run outs in the 14th over restricted Nepal to just 87 by the 13.4-over mark. The man whose name continued to bask under cricketing limelights, Dipendra Singh Airee, produced a late onslaught with four fours and three sixes in just 29 balls, pouring in 44 late runs for his crew.

Nepal finished at 139/8 after its allotted 20. A seemingly subpar tally – but Nepal’s bowling arsenal harboured the potential to turn tides. 

But the caveat – Hong Kong’s batting had an ace up its sleeve.

Anshuman Rath and Adit Gorawara celebrate after hitting a six. Rath’s batting performance conducted Hong Kong to victory in the ACC Premier Cup finals. Photo credit: Asian Cricket Council

Premature dismissals of Yasim Murtaza and Nizakat Khan flung a flurry of faith to the Nepali dugout – but the impending danger had yet to transpire. 

“When you have the name of Babar Hayat printed on the back of your shirt, you are going to be launching it way into the stands” commentators announced after Hayat rocketed the ball over long off. “The quality of Babar Hayat has come to party here at Oman Cricket Academy Ground 1.”

Hayat banged out two maximums and provided an underpinning for his partner, Rath, to showcase his mastery. Although Hayat’s knock was cut short at 26, Rath’s lifeline extended from start to finish of the match.

Rath racked up 65 runs in the stretch – and at a point where Hong Kong was falling below par, Adit Gorawara executed a textbook flick-of-the-wrist shot to hammer the ball over the cow corner region. Hong Kong reached parity with its required rate, and didn’t relinquish the advantage. 

The Hong Kong men swarm the field after clinching a berth to the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup. Photo Credit: Asian Cricket Council

When Nasrulla Rana found the aerial route on a Lalit Rajbanshi delivery in the 20th over, he and Rath scampered for a quick two, and the men clad in red embraced each other at the ropes, overcome with jubilation.

Captain Khan quickly bounded onto the pitch – wrapping his arms around Rath and Rana and relishing the victory as Hong Kong joined Oman and UAE in this year’s ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup.

Rath’s anchorage of Hong Kong’s innings earned him Player of the Match honours. Perhaps he too mirrored the indomitable spirit of Napoleon.  

But the battlefield will emerge twice again – once at the Asia Cup, and once in Sri Lanka for the Emerging Teams Asia Cup.

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