Not much was expected from tournament minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) who were making a return to the World Cup after 19 years. But on Thursday, when the bottom seeded team took on Zimbabwe in their opening Group B encounter, the grit shown by their batsmen won all applause.
Although Zimbabwe went on to win the match by four wickets for their first victory in the ongoing World Cup, UAE batsmen had done enough to make their mark as the bottom Associate side in the tournament.
UAE surpassed their previous best ODI score of 282, which they made against Afghanistan last year, posting 285-7 in 50 overs after they were put in to bat first at the Saxton Park Oval in Dunedin. Zimbabwe made the most of their experienced batting line up reaching 286-6 with 12 balls to spare.
Zimbabwe got off to a positive 64-run stand from openers Sikandar Raza and Regis Chakabva with the latter taking the initiative making 46 off 44 with six fours and a six. Zimbabwe then lost Raza and new man Hamilton Masakdza (one) in a space of eight runs.
Chakabva and Taylor steadied the ship until the former was out for 35 off 62 with four boundaries. Taylor was next to go for a 44-ball 47 hitting five boundaries and a six. Taylor’s dismissal was followed by a caught behind wicket of Soloon Mire as UAE sniffed another upset of the tournament reducing Zimbabwe to 167-5 in 32.4 overs.
However, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine cancelled out UAE scare through an 83-run partnership. Krishna Chandran Karate removed Erv ine but rock solid Williams defied the Emiratis with a match-winning knock of 76 from 65 balls.
Williams hit seven fours and a six, while Ervine made 42 off 32 with two sixes and as many boundaries. Mohammad Tauqir took 2-51 for UAE.
With a collective effort from batsmen, led by a power packed innings from Shaiman Anwar, UAE had managed to close in on 300 run mark. It was their best score against a Test nation bettering their previous best of 204 against Sri Lanka.
Anwar hammered 67 off 50 with nine fours and a six. Veteran Khurram Khan contributed 45 off 55 with six boundaries, while Krishna Chandran (34), Swapnil Patil (32), Amjad Javed (25 not out), Mohammed Naveed (23 not out) and Andre Berrenger also chipped in valuable runs.
Tendai Chatara (3-42), Mire (2-39) and Williamsn (2-43) shared seven wickets between them for Zimbabwe.