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UAE overcome Hong Kong, lift ACC trophy

Published: Saturday, November 25, 2000, 1:15 [IST]
 
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Sharjah: Teenager Mairaj Khaliq kept his nerve to steer the United Arab Emirates to a three-wicket win over Hong Kong in the final of the Asian Cricket Council Trophy on Friday.Chasing 187 to win, UAE were precariously placed on 134 for six when he, 19-year-old Khaliq, walked in to bat. Despite his tender years, the left-handed batsmen showed a veteran's temperament and proved a worthy partner to Mehmood Bux as the pair put on 35 valuable runs to edge UAE towards victory.Bux's dismissal with the score on 169 did not faze Khaliq, who brought up victory in stunning fashion when he hit Hong Kong off-spinner Alex French for three sixes."He is one of our cricketers of the future," said UAE captain Saeed Al Saffar. "He is a fighter and I was confident that he would see us through. This win means a great deal to us," he added.The hosts were in trouble after Hong Kong fast bowler Mohammed Zubair had prised out the top order to leave them on 29 for three. Al Saffar and Mehmoo Bux brought back some order with a lively 47-run stand for the fourth wicket before Al Saffar was run out in the 19th over.Bux and Nasir Siddiqui took the score along to 126 when Siddiqui was out, caught in the deep. Kashif Khan followed soon after leg before, becoming Zubair's fourth victim, as UAE slipped to 134 for six. But Bux found a solid partner in Khaliq and the pair took the score to 169 when Bux was bowled for 56.Khaliq was not perturbed as he finished the match in sweeping fashion, hitting off-spinner Alex French for three sixes to post his side's victory. "I was not worried when wickets were falling. I knew we had the depth in batting to win the match," said Al Saffar.Hong Kong's innings was built around a patient 78 from their star batsman Rahul Sharma who fought single-handedly to give his team a respectable total to defend. Sharma, who hit an unbeaten 145 in the semi-final against Nepal, came in to bat in the fourth over with the score on 15 for one. Wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end and Sharma was forced to take a watchful approach as the UAE bowlers kept a tight line and length.The burly right-handed batsman was finally out in attempting to force the pace in the 48th over, caught at long off by Ahmed Nadeem trying to hit medium-pacer Asim Saeed out of the ground. Saeed was the most successful of the UAE bowlers taking four for 32 in his 10 overs.The next highest contribution to the Hong Kong total were 39 extras. Hong Kong's two other most dangerous batsmen, Stewart Brew and Saleem Malik were both dismissed cheaply leaving Sharma to fight a lone battle.Hong Kong's disappointment is tempered by the fact that they and the UAE have qualified for next year's Asia Cup One-day tournament against Test-playing nations India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

AFP

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