We are super excited, says Sharafu after UAE qualify for Asia Cup

The UAE booked their place in the 2025 Asia Cup which will feature Test-playing teams India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan


Rituraj Borkakoty

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The UAE players celebrate a wicket against Oman in the final on Sunday. — X
The UAE players celebrate a wicket against Oman in the final on Sunday. — X

Published: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 9:28 PM

There were euphoric celebrations in the dressing room after the UAE earned the right to play in the 2025 T20 Asia Cup by beating Oman in the ACC Premier Cup final on Sunday.

A brilliant hundred from skipper Muhammad Waseem, who shared 93 runs for the first wicket with the talented Alishan Sharafu (34 off 28 balls), set up the UAE’s 55-run win over the home team at Al Amarat.

After being asked to bat first, the UAE put up a huge total of 204 for four in 20 overs, thanks to Waseem’s 56-ball 100 (6 fours, 7 sixes).

In reply. Oman never really found their top gear against the UAE as the home team managed to score just 149 for nine in 20 overs.

For the UAE, pace bowler Junaid Siddique (4-0-38-3), and spinners Aayan Afzal Khan (4-0-29-2) and Muhammad Farooq (4-0-30-2) were the most successful bowlers.

All-rounder Basil Hameed (3-0-13-1) also delivered a miserly spell as Waseem’s team avenged their defeat to Oman in the group stages of the 10-team tournament.

The UAE finished runners-up in Group B behind Oman after winning four out of five matches.

They beat Nepal comprehensively in the semifinal before producing their best performance of the tournament against Oman in the final.

“Oman is a very good side, we knew it was going to be a very good game, and I am glad that our batting clicked today,” opener Sharafu told the Khaleej Times over the phone from Oman.

“We had a big total on the board, so it was easier for our bowlers to defend the total. Everything worked perfectly for us today.”

The 21-year-old Sharafu, who finished the tournament as the top-scorer with 278 runs in six matches with three half-centuries, was also happy with his performance.

“Fortunately, I have had a decent tournament. I had a good start and it was important to continue the form. I am happy that I was able to contribute to the team and help the team win matches in this tournament,” he said.

In the final, Sharafu played second fiddle to his captain Waseem who was outstanding, playing superb strokes against both pacers and spinners to register his third century in T20 international cricket.

Waseem and Sharafu got the team off to a flying start with a superb 93-run opening partnership in 9.4 overs.

Number four Asif Khan (38 not out off 16 balls) also produced a fine cameo as the UAE put up a formidable total on the board.

In reply, Oman suffered early blows as some inspired spells from UAE’s bowlers reduced the home team to 58 for six.

Pratik Athavale (49 off 30 balls), the top-scorer, delayed the inevitable before being run out in the final ball of the lop-sided contest.

The final wicket sparked a big celebration as the UAE earned the right to play against Asian giants India and Pakistan in a tournament which will also feature Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, all Test-playing teams.

“The boys are super excited, qualifying for the Asia Cup was our ultimate goal,” said Sharafu.

“We came here (Oman) to play our best cricket and hopefully we will be able to put up some very good performances against the big teams in the Asia Cup.”


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