UAE batsman Shaiman Anwar rued the absence of regular players and fragility of the top order as the hosts lost the three-match ODI series to Nepal 2-1 in a tense battle at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
UAE are missing three players for the clashes against Nepal – regular captain Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad.
All three were suspended for eight weeks by the Emirates Cricket Board last month for their outburst on social media over playing conditions during the Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Pakistan.
Their absence was felt on the field. UAE struggled to chase down 113 in the first ODI against Nepal – winning by three wickets – before being blown away for 97 in the second match chasing 243 and then going down by four wickets defending a total of 254-6 in the decider.
Anwar said in the absence of the three players, the UAE were always swimming against the tide.
“With the three players missing, you can saw we lost almost half the side. Still, the boys tried very hard,” Anwar told Sport360.
“Mustafa offers a lot with the bat and ball. So does Ahmed with the ball. It was very difficult for us to cover those 20 overs.”
In the third match of the series, veteran batsman Anwar moved down from the number four to number six position as the top order batsmen had failed to handle Nepal seamer Sompal Kami and star leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.
That decision worked to an extent in the deciding match as the UAE – reduced to a 2-2 after openers Ashfaq Ahmed and Chirag Suri were out for ducks – posted a healthy total of 254 thanks to Anwar’s 87 off 70 balls with fine support from Mohammad Boota (59 off 31) and CP Rizwan (45).
However, a captain’s innings of 115 from Paras Khadka handed Nepal their maiden ODI series win. Anwar said whenever a team loses wickets early, it becomes very difficult to win an ODI.
“When you score 250-odd, you require an outstanding bowling effort, a brilliant catch or a run-out to win the match. While I am glad to score runs, the fact is our top order failed and you can’t expect to win international games if it keeps happening,” the 39-year-old said.
Anwar gave the example of the ongoing ODI series between New Zealand and India where the Kiwis lost two wickets in the opening powerplay in all games while the Indian top-order delivered three times to secure a series victory.
“Not only us, look at New Zealand. Their top-order failed against India and the series became completely one-sided as India’s top three scored runs in all matches.”
With the ODI series lost, the focus shifts to the three-match T20 series against Nepal at the same venue, starting Thursday. Anwar is a lot more hopeful about succeeding in the shortest format.
“T20 is a format that is made for us. All our players play regularly in that format and we are confident of putting in a much better performance in the T20 series,” the batsman added.