Pakistan were rocked early in their chase of 130 against UAE as the latter’s skipper Amjad Javed led from the front with three big strikes at the top, at Mirpur. Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal however consolidated for Pakistan. They added 114 for the fourth wicket to take Pakistan home with ease in the end, Malik remained unbeaten on 63 while Akmal made exactly 50 not out. Earlier, for the third game in a row, UAE struggled with the bat, the only difference this time being that UAE were batting first, having chosen to do so after winning the toss. The top order once again floundered, and the batting side were reduced to a disastrous 12 for 3 by the fourth over, and later to 4 for 41.
In reply, Pakistan were shocked by Javed’s deadly blows. Sharjeel Khan was the first one to go, albeit in an unlucky manner as the umpire gave him leg before even as ball pitched around middle and came back in, but seemed to be heading over the bails. An inspired Javed had Khurram Manzoor caught behind for a duck, as the batsman went to cut one that bounced on him. The experienced opener Mohammad Hafeez then hit one straight to cover when on 11, to Pakistan were rocked at 17 for 3. Malik and Akmal began slowly. After playing themselves in, Malik broke the shackles, and Akmal followed suit.
Having got a measure of the surface, Malik drove Mohammad Naveed to wide long-on, and then smashing him over deep midwicket for a six. Boundaries flowed easily after that, and UAE didn’t help their cause by dropping Malik on 42 as Usman Mushtaq misjudged one coming in from deep square leg. Malik celebrated by taking on Rohan Mustafa, by pulling and lofting him for boundaries. Javed who was hero early on turned villain, conceding 23 in the 18th over. That was game set and match Pakistan.
For a change, the middle and lower order made good contributions for UAE -- Shaiman Anwar leading the way with 46 while Muhammad Usman and skipper Javed chipped in with quick 20s towards the end of the innings, as UAE managed to finish on 129 for 6. A little while into UAE’s innings, it seemed they would again fail to reach three failures. The first wicket fell in the second over. Rohan Mustafa charged down the track against Mohammad Sami, but only managed to hit one straight to Shahid Afridi at mid-off. Mohammad Amir then bowled another in-swinging beauty to get through the gap between Muhammad Kaleem’s bat and pad.
Mohammad Irfan got into the act, and got one to rise on Mohammad Shahzad. The dismissal left UAE reeling at a disastrous 12 for 3. UAE were in desperate need of a partnership and their hopes rested on Shaiman Anwar. Unlike the other batsmen, Anwar looked in good form, and found some support in Usman Mushtaq. Anwar got his first four by flicking Sami down to fine leg. A few overs later, he smashed Mohammad Nawaz to wide long off for a maximum.
Just when a partnership seemed to be developing, Mushtaq fell, top-edging Afridi to short fine leg. Anwar, however, continued his domination over Nawaz, sweeping for six, and then cutting him through third-man off consecutive deliveries. In Afridi’s next over, he took three consecutive fours. Irfan managed to have him caught behind, before the lower order rallied to help UAE finish with a decent score. It wasn’t enough.
--By A Cricket Correspondent