Singapore: United Arab Emirates (UAE) retained the ACC Trophy with a classic finish in the final against Nepal on Sunday, with captain Khuram Khan cracking a towering six to secure a six-wicket victory.
"That was the way I wanted to finish it. It's a great feeling," a jubilant Khan said, after UAE took just 38 overs to knock off Nepal's 184. The Pakistan-born 28- year-old, who unlike most of his countrymen did not start playing cricket until he left school, was not out 60 at the close, bringing up his half-century in 55 balls. But he missed out on the man-of-the-match award, which went to UAE team mate Ashad Ali who was the architect of Nepal's batting collapse. After Nepalese captain Raju Khadka won the toss and elected to bat, the Himalayan side had the scoreboard ticking over nicely at five for 164 when Ali struck. In the space of six overs he took four for 24, with three of the wickets stumpings by wicket-keeper Mohammad Nadeem, who was judged the fielder of the tournament. "I wasn't too happy after the first 10-15 overs but then the spinners came right," Khan said. Opener Paresh Lohani top scored for Nepal with 52, while Shakti Gauchan scored 47. With the prospect of rain disrupting the match, Ali and Asim Saeed opened the UAE innings at six an over to get the run rate up quickly. Saeed, with six fours and a six, raced to 41 in 31 balls before he was out with the score at 54. Ali added to his exceptional bowling performance with 21 runs at the crease. The best bowling for Nepal came from teenager Binod Das with two for 27. Das earlier this year captained the Nepal youth side to the plate final at the Under- 19 World Cup. Both the finalists automatically qualify for the Asia Cup which involves the big guns of the region, Test-playing nations India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. UAE coach Abid Ali said there was a wide gulf in standards between the Test teams and the second-tier nations from Asia and the Middle East, which compete in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) tournament. Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives competed with the UAE and Nepal for the ACC Trophy. Ali said he was 'very pleased' with his side's second successive victory in the tournament, but said they lacked the concentration of full Test players. "The UAE players tend get to the 40s and go out. There is a lack of concentration. They need to build mental toughness," the former Indian medium-pacer said, throwing down a challenge for cricket authorities to provide the sport's emerging nations with more international exposure. "We can't execute out in the middle because of a lack of confidence. The ACC has to come up with some solution," he said.
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