Muhammad Usman takes UAE to playoffs, Ireland get direct entry to T20 World Cup
UAE 154 for 5 (Usman 89*, Shahzad 27, Zafar 3-21) beat Canada 140 for 5 (Dhaliwal 41, Kirton 37*, Waheed 3-21) by 14 runs
Muhammad Usman's unbeaten 89 helped UAE qualify for the playoffs of the T20 World Cup qualifiers with a 14-run win over Canada but their victory wasn't big enough to trump Ireland on the basis of net run rate. As a result, Ireland finished on the top of Group B and became the second team after Group A toppers Papua New Guinea to get a direct entry to next year's T20 World Cup.
UAE will now play Netherlands in a qualifier, with the winner going through to the T20 World Cup. The loser, however, will get another chance, in a second qualifier against Scotland.
Faizan Asif and Vriitya Aravind replace Ashfaq Ahmed and Ghulam Shabber
The ICC has approved replacements for UAE players Ashfaq Ahmed and Ghulam Shabber. Left-hand opener Faizan Asif will replace Ashfaq, who has been provisionally suspended by the Emirates Cricket Board in relation to an ongoing corruption probe, while 17-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Vriitya Aravind will come in for Shabber, who was suspended by the ECB for opting out of the UAE squad without intimation.
At the start of the match, Canada too had an outside chance to top the group but the defeat meant they finished fifth with three wins from six games.
Usman, the left-hand batsman, struck six fours and two sixes in his 63-ball innings to take UAE to 154 for 5. In response, Canada were 68 for 2 after ten overs but couldn't match the climbing required rate and could reach only 140 for 5 in the end. Waheed Ahmed was the most successful bowler for UAE, picking up 3 for 21 with his medium pace.
UAE didn't have a great start after being put in and lost both their openers - Rohan Mustafa and Chirag Suri - in the first two overs. Rameez Shahzad and Usman stabilised the innings by adding 42 for the third wicket before left-arm spinner Saad Bin Zafar dismissed Shahzad for 23-ball 27.
Usman and Darius D'Silva took UAE to 95 for 3 in 15 overs with clever running between the wickets as the pair pinched 14 twos during their 73-run partnership. But Canada blew a golden opportunity to end Usman's innings in the 14th over on 40 when he pulled Dillon Heyliger to Nicholas Kirton at deep square leg, who spilled a straightforward chance. Usman stepped it up on the first ball of the 16th over, hitting Heyliger for a six over midwicket to bring up his fifty off 43 balls. Two balls later, he pulled one to fine leg for four before D'Silva ended the over with another boundary.
Zafar, who missed the previous match with a left pectoral strain, struck back with the wickets off D'Silva and Sultan Ahmed off successive deliveries. But Usman and Waheed plundered another 30 from the final two overs off Heyliger and Romesh Eranga to take UAE to a competitive total. Though spin had dominated throughout the week, and in this match itself, allrounder Nitish Kumar's offspin was never utilized to combat the left-handed Usman.
Srimantha Wijeyeratne and captain Navneet Dhaliwal gave Canada a start of 29 in 3.4 overs and the team fifty came up in the seventh over but Waheed dismissed Dhaliwal for 41 off 36 off the last ball of the 12th over. With the first ball of his next over, he had Hamza Tariq caught and bowled to dent the chase further.
Canada needed 58 from the last five overs - UAE had plundered 59 in that period - and Nicholas Kirton and Ravinderpal Singh's best efforts didn't prove enough.