Ireland cricketThe CWC 2015 has been witnessing close finishes, whenever non-regular teams take on one another. Yesterday, the match between UAE and Ireland ended in the 50th over with UAE losing out narrowly. But the Emirates side made valiant efforts that included a brisk century by Shaiman Anwar with a World Cup-record seventh-wicket partnership with Amjad Javed. The two batsmen added 107 in 11.5 overs after being down in the dumps at 131/6 in the 35th over. The late charge from Anwar and Amjad helped UAE recover marvelously to post an extremely challenging 278/9 in 50 overs. Then they bowled well to take 4 Ireland wickets for 97. Afterwards, however, Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien took the UAE bowlers to task and benefited from lapses in the field. Just when it looked that Wilson and O’Brien would carry on till end, more wickets fell to make the finish labored for Ireland.

Ireland won the toss and asked UAE to bat first. They didn’t reap the benefit of the toss immediately as UAE openers Amjad Ali and Andri Berenger put on 49 for the first wicket. However, Paul Stirling struck with two wickets in the 12th and 14th overs to cause a sudden setback. Another two UAE wickets fell in the 19th and 21st overs and 49/0 became 78/4. After a 47-run fifth wicket stand between Khurram Khan and Shaiman Anwar, another two wickets fell in the 32nd and 35th overs and UAE tottered at 131/6. This was when Amjad Javed joined Shaiman Anwar even as Ireland held an upper hand. In their 12-over fruitful stay together, Anwar and Ahmed made mincemeat of Ireland bowlers. They were relentless in attack and realized 107 runs at an amazing scoring rate of nearly 9 per over. This gallant rearguard action from the two UAE stalwarts was chiefly responsible for their final score of 278/9.

Coming on to chase 279, Ireland lost Paul Stirling in the second over. However, UAE couldn’t capitalize on the initial breakthrough and allowed too much whip to the top order Ireland batsmen. William Porterfield and Ed Joyce put on 68 for the second wicket before Joyce got out. Ireland lost two more wickets quite soon, when Porterfield and Niall O’Brien fell prey to the guile of skipper Mohammad Tauqir. Porterfield was beaten by the flight of the ball as he tried a sweep and O’Brien was struck plumb in front to be declared leg-before-wicket. 97/4 in the 26th over was bad news for Ireland but they carried on bravely. Andy Balbirnie and Gary Wilson added 74 invaluable runs and brought Ireland back on track with more than 12 overs remaining. After Balbirnie was dismissed, Wilson had Kevin O’Brien for company. The two Irish batsmen realized 82 runs for the sixth wicket and even though Kevin O’Brien got out, Ireland stood on the verge of an easy victory. With more than 5 overs remaining for scoring 36 runs, it looked like curtains for UAE. But the match was far from over. UAE succeeded in removing John Mooney in the 47th over with Ireland still requiring 20 runs off 18 balls. Then Wilson got out to the third ball of the 48th to make it 267/8. With just the tail-enders left to bring up the finish, Ireland were in the spot yet again. As Amjad Javed prepared to bowl the 49th over, 10 runs were required off the last 12 balls. He began with two invaluable dot-balls for UAE. The third ball was a yorker but Ireland batsmen George Dockrell and Alex Cusack stole two runs. The game looked tight, when Dockrell lofted over mid-off to reduce the target to 3 in the last over. Sensible play from Dockrell and Cusack in the closing stages ensured that Ireland ended the innings with a 2-wicket victory with 4 balls still remaining.

It was a disappointing finish for Amjad Javed, who did nothing wrong in the match. He scored the crucial runs with Anwar, took three timely wickets and a great catch. Even in the last stages, he tried to get his side back into the match when he bowled the 49th over with two dots. With such performance, Javed didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.