Dubai: United Arab Emirates had not won a single T20I in their last eight outings at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. That record would have changed in the last game had it not been for the Kiwi captain Tim Southee who bagged his only second five-wicket haul in T20 cricket.
If it was the Kiwi captain on Thursday, it was only fitting that it would be the UAE skipper Muhammad Waseem on Saturday who would pave the way for his side to get over the line, thus registering their first win on this ground and against the T20 World Cup 2022 semifinalists, New Zealand.
In conditions where the rest of the batters have played with a 130ish strike rate so far in the series, he smacked the Kiwi bowlers at nearly 200. He hit three 6s and four 4s for his well-made 55, ensuring that by the time he departed, the UAE were well ahead in the game.
In the end, UAE beat New Zealand by seven wickets in the second T20I with four overs to spare, thanks to the fireworks by Waseem and Asif Khan who remained not out on 48 off 29 balls. On a wicket where the spinners found more help, New Zealand bowled only four overs of spin despite having a total of 12 at their disposal.
Questionable captaincy and poor catching and ground fielding by New Zealand allowed the UAE to make a comeback in the series. None of the six Kiwi bowlers were able to stop the batting assault, with each of them conceding over 8rpo.
Earlier, much like the previous game, UAE won the toss and asked the Kiwis to bat first on a dry wicket. Muhammad Jawadullah, brought in for Junaid Siddique, made an instant impact and dismissed Tim Seifert cheaply who had just started to look dangerous after flexing his arms, smashing the slow-left arm Aayan Afzal Khan for a six in the second over.
New Zealand promoted the left-handed batter Mitchell Santner up the order in a bid to counter the threat of Aayan. However, Aayan was replaced by right-arm medium pacer Ali Naseer in the fourth over of the Powerplay. Chad Bowes took him to cleaners and got 12 runs, giving some tempo to the New Zealand innings which had had a dull start till then.
The UAE captain Muhammad Waseem brought back Aayan in the fifth over who removed both Santner and Dane Cleaver, thus ensuring that whatever momentum the Kiwis had gained was lost. The UAE bowlers restricted the Kiwis to 37/3 at the end of the Powerplay.
Aayan dismissed Bowes on the second ball after the Powerplay for 21 on as many balls who had looked to take the game away from the hosts. With Bowes’ dismissal, the flow of the runs dried up with the Kiwis unable to score a single boundary in three overs. It wasn’t until the 10th over that Mark Chapman showed some signs of urgency and looked to hit more boundaries.
At the other end, the wickets kept falling at regular intervals with McConchie, Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, and Kyle Jamieson ensuring that the job of death overs hitting was left to Chapman.
The Southpaw Kiwi batter scored a brilliant half century, piling 63 runs off 46 balls with the help of three 6s and as many 4s. While he helped push the New Zealand score to a respectable 142/8, it turned out to be below par in the end.
Aayan was named the Player of the Match for picking three wickets for 20 runs. The two sides will go in the decider tomorrow with the hosts hoping to secure a historic series win over the Kiwis.