Experienced New Zealand overcome spirited UAE to go 1-0 up

Experienced New Zealand overcome spirited UAE

DUBAI: New Zealand beat UAE by 19 runs to bag the first T20I of the three-match T20I series here on Thursday. The Kiwi captain Tim Southee was named the Player of the Match award for claiming a 5-fer on a slow Dubai wicket.

Never mind the end result, the enormity of the occasion itself motivated the UAE to leave an ever-lasting impression on the visitors. The opponents, T20 World Cup 2022 semifinalists, New Zealand soon found out that the UAE meant business.

Having been put into bat first, the Kiwis did not get an easy start. The opening batter Chad Bowes was beaten for pace and edged the first ball of the match through to the wicketkeeper who dived forward to give New Zealand a shocking start to the match.

Dane Cleaver was the second to fall on the last ball of the powerplay with New Zealand having crossed 50 by then, thanks to Tim Seifert who seemed to be batting on a different track, hitting three 6s and two 4s.

The right-arm off-spinner Basil Hameed quickly removed two (Seifert and Mitchell Santner) in his first over to leave the Kiwis reeling at 64/4 after 8 overs.

With the set batter dismissed, New Zealand looked to Mark Chapman and Jimmy Neesham to give them some sense of stability. However, the UAE bowlers kept the Kiwi batters in check with their teasing lines and lengths and ensured that the Kiwis did not get ahead in the game.

Chapman edged one off of Mohammed Farazuddin to the wicketkeeper who held on to the catch after multiple, but brief juggles. With half the side back in the pavilion in the 12th over, UAE looked set to keep the Kiwis down to a chase-able target on a wicket that was two-paced.

However, handy contributions from the New Zealand lower-order (Neesham, Ravindra, and McConchie) propelled them to 155, setting a target that kept both sides in the game.

UAE too followed the suit of New Zealand and lost their captain Muhammad Waseem on the first ball of the innings. For the hosts, only the 18-year-old Aryansh Sharma put up some fight and kept the UAE in the game. He scored a brilliant 60 off 43 balls, hitting one 6 and nine 4s. He got some support from Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Ansh Tandon, and Ali Naseer from the other end but none of them could convert the starts into a match-defining innings.

For New Zealand, the bowling was led by their captain Southee who was well supported by Kyle Jamieson, Mitchell Santner, and Jimmy Neesham. While the final scoreline may suggest that the Kiwis ended up winning the game comfortably, only those who followed it closely know that the margin was a lot finer.

The two teams will meet each other for the second T20I of the series at the same ground on Saturday, August 19.

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