Saqlain Haider scored a gritty century against Papua New Guinea.
Saqlain Haider took the UAE to a dominant position with a gritty century against Papua New Guinea in the first innings on Day 3 of the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup first-class match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
Saqlain also had luck going his way being dropped thrice when on 26 and 43 by keeper Dogodo Bau, and then on 93.
In the second innings, Imran Haider snared three PNG wickets with visitors now needing 95 more runs from six players to make the UAE bat again. The UAE do smell an improbable victory on the last day.
Resuming the first innings fight at 299 for six, Saqlain and Ahmed Raza started with back-to-back boundaries but then followed a lull with only two runs coming from seven overs. Saqlain tried to break the deadlock and was lucky to have been dropped by stumper Dogodo Bau with the ball going for a boundary off Pokana over.
Post drinks session was a slow start and making matters worse, Saqlain was dropped off Soper. Adding to misery, he soon got to his half-century with a boundary off Lega Siaka. Raza smashed Mahuru Dai for a four but the bowler smiled at the end of the over with a clean bowled. The wicket coming just before lunch, ended an 88-run partnership, which took the UAE from 292 to 380.
Mohammad Naveed didn't contribute much and became the fourth batsman to be bowled. Saqlain was on 68 when Imran joined him. They continued to rotate strike and Saqlain punished bad balls to boundary. Saqlain was third time lucky as he was dropped again in Pokana over.
Saqlain, finally, reached his century (102, 10X4) with a swat over mid-wicket and skipper Rohan Mustafa declared the innings at 441 for eight wickets.
The UAE, with a cushion of 247 runs, didn't go for wickets but tried to contain runs. It immediately paid result with a victim in the eighth over of the day. It was a bowling change that yielded a wicket.
Ahmed Raza induced an edge from Vani Morea and Saqlain took a clean catch. PNG entered Tea session 200 runs away and a wicket less to play. Imran-Raza duo bowled in tandem but wicket came through a change of end. Once again Saqlain was in action as he stumped Tony Ura in Imran's over.
Lega Siaka set out for reconstruction work with boundaries but soon Imran struck again. Assad Vala was out in dramatic fashion as edge went out of Saqlain's gloves but Shaiman Anwar was there to grab the ball. Imran got a third wicket as Mustafa caught Dogodo Bau in the covers to peg PNG to 106 for four wickets. From then onwards, Siaka took control of the situation and with Bau frustrated the UAE with a 46-run partnership to take score to 152 for four wickets from 47 overs.
On Monday, the UAE need to get Siaka back to pavilion soon enough as PNG trail by 95 runs with six wickets remaining. The UAE also need to be wary of PNG tail, which wagged in the first innings. The variety in bowling should come handy for Mustafa on Day 4 wicket.
PNG: 194 and 152 for 4 in 47 overs (Lega Siaka 51l; Imran Haider 3 for 58). UAE: 441 for 8 declared (Saqlain Haider 102)