Ashfaq Ahmed returned to form to lay the platform for the UAE’s 13-run win over the Netherlands in the first Twenty20 international in Amstelveen.
The opener hit 54 from 35 balls, while Mohammed Usman also struck 52 at a similar rate, to set the tourists on the way to a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. The national team posted 181-5, having been invited by the hosts to bat first, and then restricted Netherlands to 168-4 from their 20 overs in reply.
Rohan Mustafa took 2-26 from his four overs, while Zahoor Khan, who was – like Mustafa – another late arrival in Netherlands after flying in from the Global T20 Canada, took 1-26.
UAE debutant in a T20i v Netherlands today will have to go a bit to live up to his name. Good on free-kicks, importantly pic.twitter.com/MmyfysZBAM
— Paul Radley (@PaulRadley) 3 August 2019
Ashfaq’s half-century, in particular, was a positive sign as the national team look ahead to the important business of the World Cup T20 Qualifier later this year. The tournament, to be played on home soil starting in October, carries with it six places for the main event in Australia next year.
Ashfaq has been a revelation at the top of the order for UAE since debuting a little more than two years ago. The 34-year-old batsman’s recent poor run – he had been out for single-figure scores in six of his past seven innings against international opposition – coincided with a lean run of results for the national team last season.
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The fifties by Ashfaq and Usman were not the only reasons to cheer for the national team in the opening win against the Dutch.
Darius D’Silva, a 21-year-old who was born in Dubai, showed up well on his international debut with a 15-ball cameo worth 24 not out to take the national team to 181-5.
The UAE have two other uncapped players in their squad for the series, which continues with the second match, at the same venue, on Monday.
Zawar Farid and Waheed Ahmed did not feature in the XI in the first match, but Dougie Brown, the UAE coach, is excited by the new talent available to him, as they look to hone the side for the Qualifier.
“It is incredibly exciting because we have always been looking to add value to the side,” Brown said ahead of the series in the Netherlands.
“We are starting to piece together other parts of the jigsaw puzzle, which we have maybe not had in abundance before now.”