Match abandoned USA 152 for 7 (Taylor 72, Malhotra 28, Zahoor 2-30) v UAE 29 for 2 (Jessy Singh 2-18)
Nine balls short of making it an official match and well ahead of Duckworth-Lewis for the five-over mark, USA were denied victory on their T20I debut as persistent rains that had already reduced USA’s innings to 15 overs and UAE’s chase to 13 overs finally ended the match for good on Friday afternoon at the ICC Academy.
USA were in command of proceedings after Jessy Singh’s double-strike in the first three overs had reduced the hosts to 20 for 2 chasing an adjusted target of 143 – USA had scored 152 for 7 in their 15 overs. But three balls into the fourth over, the umpires waved the ground staff on to the field for the last of several occasions on the day. At the time, UAE’s five-over target with two wickets down on DLS was 51.
The match began after a 40-minute delay when the first rains of the day began just eight minutes after UAE had won the toss and sent USA in. Star fast bowler Ali Khan was left out because of back spasms, opening the door for Jessy to play a key role in the field in USA’s maiden T20I.
But the one who shone brightest through the desert gloom was batsman Steven Taylor. Entering in the second over after Xavier Marshall – who made history as the seventh player to play T20Is for two different countries – was bowled by Ashfaq Ahmed missing a back-foot punch, Taylor struck an imperious 72 off 39 balls with nine fours and three sixes.
Taylor began his innings with an effortless push over mid-on for six, then flicked Rohan Mustafa over midwicket for six more in the fifth over to race to 18 off nine balls. Rarely was his strike rate under 200 over the course of his innings. He should have been caught on 46 pulling Zahoor Khan toward CP Rizwan at deep square-leg, but Rizwan misjudged the chance horribly, running in too far only for the ball to land behind him and bounce over for four to bring up Taylor’s half-century off 26 balls.
Taylor flicked another boundary behind square next ball followed by a single, before the rains returned to produce another 35-minute delay. When play resumed, USA’s innings had five overs shaved off. Taylor lasted until the 14th until he mistimed a flick off Mohammad Naveed to deep midwicket, where Sultan Ahmed took a splendid catch charging in, his second take of the day after a brilliant leaping effort at deep square-leg earlier in the innings to claim Jaskaran Malhotra for 28.
Roy Silva came in and smashed three consecutive sixes over the leg side to end the 14th off Naveed, who struggled with his length and ended the day with 1 for 38 in three overs. Conversely, Zahoor bowled a spectacular five-run final over that fetched three wickets – two via run-outs.
Rain had started coming down again during the final over of USA’s innings and produced another delay to the start of the chase, resulting in two more overs reduced for UAE and a change in their target. Jessy made a pair of breakthroughs with the new ball, first having Ashfaq caught by a diving Monank Patel at midwicket off the second ball of the chase and then Mustafa bowled missing a swipe in the third. But the match was waved off seven balls later.
The two sides face each other again at ICC Academy in the series finale on Saturday. (ESPNCricinfo)