CWC LEAGUE 2
Waseem’s explosive ton sets up consolation League 2 win for UAE
by Bertus de Jong • Last updated on Wed, Mar 15, 2023
UAE captain Muhammad Waseem struck a break-neck 76-ball 119 to set up a belated win over Papua New Guinea in the penultimate match of CWC League 2 at Kirtipur, chasing down the Papuan total of 234-7 with six wickets and 68 balls to spare. The victory comes too late for the Emiratis to escape potential relegation however. Hazrat Bilal’s 4-47 was instrumental in restricting PNG to under 250 despite Norman Vanua leading a late counter- attack, before Waseem’s 125-run partnership with Vritya Aravind for the second wicket that essentially put the game to bed.
Brought on at first change in the third over, Bilal struck with his seventh ball to have Hiri Hiri caught behind, and then again at the close of the powerplay to remove Sese Bau as PNG stumbled to 22-2. Papuan captain Asad Vala dug in with the middle order, building partnerships with Kiplin Doriga and Charles Amini to see his side to triple figures, but Bilal returned in the 34th over to nick off Amini with the first ball of his second spell, following up with the wicket of Gaudi Toka five overs later. Vala himself fell to Zawar Farid for 65 with eight overs remaining, and at 161-6 it looked as though PNG would struggle to pass 200. Vanua and Riley Hekure found their range at the death however, Vanua hitting three consecutive sixes off Farid in the 48th and Hekure taking Aryan Lakra for 21 runs in the 49th. Zahoor Khan wrested some momentum back for the Emiratis in the final over, giving up just six runs as Hekure was run out for 33 and Vanua was left unbeaten one short of a well-earned half-century, setting the UAE a target of 235 to win.
Waseem ensured his side made light work of the chase, and despite the early loss of Lakra, took the UAE to 56-1 at the end of the powerplay, by which time he already had 4 sixes to his name. He would add 8 more over the course of his match-winning knock, along with 6 fours including the uppercut over backward point off Vanua that took him to his century off just 60 deliveries. Aravind had been content to play a supporting role, accumulating 33 off 56 before chipping Hekure to mid on in the 23rd, but at 149-2 the game was by then the UAE’s to lose. Though Waseem fell for 119 soon four overs later, likewise holing out off Hekure, there would be no improbable collapse. CP Rizwan and Aayan Afzal Khan put on another half-century stand for the fourth wicket to take them to the brink of victory, and when Ayaan was caught for 27 to become debutant John Kariko’s first victim in ODIs, the maiden wicket was little more than consolation for the Papuans. Rizwan was joined by Asif Khan to close out a comfortable win, though the victory itself is likewise mere consolation for the Emiratis.
The two sides were both already assured of finishing as the bottom two on the table and thus in jeopardy of losing ODI status at the upcoming Qualifier Play-off, thus making today’s match a dead rubber – remarkably the first and only dead match of the League’s 126 fixtures. The UAE return to action for the final match of the League against the hosts tomorrow, where Nepal will be looking for the win they need to claim a podium finish and direct progression to the World Cup Qualifier. Currently occupying third place are Namibia, who will thus find out tomorrow whether they will merely be hosting the Qualifier Play-off or also have to play in it. They will doubtless be watching on nervously, along with an expected sell-out crowd at the Tribhuvan University Ground for what looks set to be a fitting competition finale.