UAE battle to keep Namibia at bay
Arshad Ali celebrates the fall of Louis Klazinga
United Arab Emirates still need another 41 runs to avoid an innings defeat in the four-day ICC Intercontinental Shield Final against Namibia.
On Friday, UAE bowled out Namibia for 320, thereby conceding a lead of 241. It then showed signs of a fight through an opening stand of 98, but still ended the second day at 200 for five with two full days of play left in the contest.
Medium-pacer Sarel Burger wrecked the UAE innings picking up 4-30 to follow up his knock of 66.
Earlier, the day began in a hectic fashion with Namibia losing four wickets in the first four overs of the day. Namibia slipped from a comfortable 267 for three to 269 for seven.
Fast bowler Shoaib Sarwar claimed two wickets _ Sarel Burger and Louis Burger _ in the very first over of the day. Amjad Javed backed him up by claiming the wickets of Tobias Verwey and Nicholaas Scholtz in the second and fourth overs of the morning.
Namibia were then steadied by a 35-run stand between Gerrie Snyman and Louis van der Westhuizen (34: 37b, 5x4) which pushed the score beyond 300. Arshad Ali then claimed the tail with his off-spin to end with figures of 3-46.
"I enjoyed my spell. The pitch was a little helpful as the ball was skidding a bit. So I bowled a little straight. It was good to take some wickets," said Arshad about his bowling.
Wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil ended with five dismissals including four catches and one stumping.
It was then down to Arshad Ali and his new opening partner, Naeemuddin Aslam to fashion UAE's reply. Aslam was promoted following his gritty first innings score of 38.
The opening pair gave a steady start scoring 98 off 30.2 overs. Arshad scored a half-century (50: 85b, 9x4) and was soon claimed by Sarel Burger. Arshad finished his ICC Intercontinental Shield campaign at the top of the batting charts logging 451 runs from four games.
"I know about that (being the highest run-getter). I am happy about it because it is good for me and for my country," said Arshad.
But Arshad's departure seemed to open up the floodgates as UAE slipped from 98 for one to 131 for five. It was then down to Saqib Ali and Patil to keep Namibia at bay with a defiant 69-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Saqib is still batting on 42 off 128 balls with four boundaries and Patil is on 35 off 80 balls with five hits to the fence.
Sarel Burger advised patience to his Namibia teammates as they look to inch closer to the title.
"Early in the morning it does a little bit as we saw yesterday and today. Then as the day progresses the pitch flattens out. We need to show patience and keep bowling in those right areas and wait for them to make a mistake," said Sarel Burger.
The hero of the day for UAE, Arshad, is confident of his team's ability to fight, but conceded that his wicket set the hosts back.
"We did well early on in the morning session by getting some wickets. Then we had a good start, but my wicket started it all. It was a leg-side flick went off the middle of the bat, really an unfortunate way to go. The wicketkeeper (Raymond van Schoor) took an excellent catch. We are still happy to be back into the game," said Arshad.
Namibia's best bet with the ball on Friday, Sarel Burger, is confident about his team mopping up the UAE innings early on Saturday, the third day of the match.
"The key is to bowl well in the morning tomorrow because it does a little bit. If we bowl in the right areas then we can restrict them under our score. Even if they score a little more than our lead (241), then it should not be too much for us," concluded Burger.