UAE's Alishan Sharafu keen to ensure Asia Cup qualification in Oman final

Alishan Sharafu says he and his UAE colleagues aim to finish the job by securing Asia Cup qualification against Oman on Sunday.

The two sides will meet in the final of the ACC Premier Cup in Muscat. The fixture guarantees the winners a place in the continent’s top limited-overs event next year.

It is possible both sides could yet feature in that event. The UAE won the equivalent competition in the women’s game back in February, and so believed they had earned one of the two qualifying places for the Women’s Asia Cup.

Only subsequently did the Asian Cricket Council announce that competition would have two extra qualifying places, in addition to the UAE and Malaysia.

The five Asian Test nations – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – are guaranteed entry to the men’s Asia Cup.

Presently it is set to be a six-team competition, but speculation suggests that it, too, might be extended to accommodate two more teams.

While that is unconfirmed, the UAE are focused on making the debate academic.

uae's alishan sharafu keen to ensure asia cup qualification in oman final

Alishan Sharafu has blossomed as an opener for UAE in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup. Photo: Subas Humagain for The National

Sharafu, who has been the national team’s breakout performer in reaching the final, said the team are glad to be in the position they are.

“It is more excitement than nerves,” Sharafu said ahead of their chance to avenge the group-stage loss to Oman in the final.

“The job is not done yet. The ultimate goal when we were coming here was to go to the Asia Cup.

“We have given ourselves the best chance now and hopefully we can bring our A-game in the final as well, and get ourselves a spot in the Asia Cup.”

No one has done more to get the national team into this position than Sharafu. He has been a batter transformed since arriving in Muscat just over a week ago – and his beleaguered side’s fortunes have been transformed, too.

Ahead of this series, Sharafu, hadn’t made a half-century in senior international cricket, nor had he won a player of the match award.

His value to the national team was not entirely unappreciated before that – certainly not by those inside it.

He had been fiddling around in the middle order, making the odd contribution here and there. The sort of innings that would be valuable to his team at the time, but whose context would be lost when the only reference point subsequently became a scorecard.

He needed a statement innings, one which would wrestle the limelight from those who are used to hogging it.

In this tournament in Muscat, he has done just that. Three times over. His first half-century in UAE colours came in the opening match, against Kuwait.

It might easily have been a century, too, had Asif Khan not arrived at the other end and ruthlessly finished the game with a flurry of sixes.

Sharafu did not rest on his laurels. Instead, he has added two more half-centuries to that career best 90 not out on opening day.

The latter of those, against Nepal, was arguably the most instructive of any of his three milestones.

His half-centuries against Kuwait and Bahrain were made with the sort of dash that marked Sharafu out as the most dynamic batter of an age-group cohort that included the likes of Aryan Lakra, Vriitya Aravind and Kai Smith.

The Nepal innings required something different. The UAE were chasing a small total, on a testing pitch, against a side they had endured plenty of suffering against in recent times.

Rather than blaze away in his typical style to try to hurry them to the winning line, Sharafu took stock. Senior colleagues came and went, but the 21-year-old batter stayed to see it through.

He ended with 55 not out from 41 balls, his second match award of the tournament, and the chance to go again in Sunday’s final.

“We knew what we needed to get, and we had seen how the wicket had played in the first innings,” Sharafu said.

“It wasn’t the easiest to go out there and play shots until you were settled in. Lower chases can be a bit tricky sometimes so you just need to give yourself a bit of time to get set and then you can start to play some shots.”

Sharafu’s upturn in form stems most obviously from a change in his role. He has been sent in to open with his captain, Muhammad Waseem, and he has thrived as a result.

“Before he was batting at No3 or 4, but I took a stand and told him he would open with me,” Waseem said.

“He has done a brilliant job. He has great skills, and is a very talented guy and he has shown his talent to everyone here.

“He has got lots of shots but [in the semi-final win over Nepal] he showed he can play sensible innings when required as well.”

OTHER NEWS

17 minutes ago

King Charles's incredible £18k gift to Prince George that's hidden in his garden

17 minutes ago

NSW will meet national housing target, premier insists

17 minutes ago

A brand-new F-35 crashed into a New Mexico hillside while flying from a Lockheed Martin facility to a US airbase

19 minutes ago

Owner of UK's Royal Mail says it has accepted a takeover offer from a Czech billionaire

22 minutes ago

Texas police arrest fugitive illegally in US, wanted for murder by Interpol

22 minutes ago

Transfer News LIVE: Latest club signings, deals and rumours as Chelsea look to appoint Leicester boss Enzo Maresca and Premier League top dogs look to raid Leeds after failed promotion bid

22 minutes ago

Video: Queen Letizia of Spain steps out solo at awards ceremony in Madrid as bombshell book claims King Felipe was 'crushed and destroyed' by her 'infidelities'

22 minutes ago

Nikita Kirby, 31, is charged with murder after her ex-boyfriend was stabbed to death at a home in Sydney's eastern suburbs

25 minutes ago

Lopetegui wants West Ham to sign 45 million player after Fabricio Bruno

25 minutes ago

HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: We got it all wrong about 'Marathon Mum'.

25 minutes ago

‘This Murad product is like a facial in a tube – how to try it for less than £2’

25 minutes ago

Veterans from top-secret Area 52 sickened by toxic substances - but get no benefits as ‘it doesn’t exist’

26 minutes ago

Europe stocks lower after worst session for a month; Royal Mail owner IDS up 3% after sale agreement

27 minutes ago

Charles Barkley Identifies Timberwolves' Biggest Mistake In Series Against Dallas Mavericks

27 minutes ago

Biden campaign should focus on Trump as threat to ‘middle-class life’: Begala

27 minutes ago

David Stearns not thinking about trade deadline amid Mets struggles: ‘We have a group of players that is determined to play better’

28 minutes ago

10 Of The Most Iconic Motorcycles Of All Time

28 minutes ago

‘More news, less views’: David Littleproud calls out ABC host’s ‘strong’ views against Coalition

28 minutes ago

Pogacar is also financially the Big Man of the Giro, with the second in line far behind and Arensman somewhat surprisingly in top ten

28 minutes ago

‘Items of interest’ found in Samantha Murphy search; News Corp restructure revealed; and Pompeii’s gladiator drawings

28 minutes ago

Outside Manhattan court, Robert De Niro calls Trump a "coward" who has others do his "dirty work"

28 minutes ago

Eastern Conference contender reportedly preparing to offer Jimmy Butler max contract if Miami Heat star is traded

28 minutes ago

Man casually rides past lion on motorbike in viral video, leaving peeps in awe

28 minutes ago

Kate Middleton's go-to brand Aspinal of London launches huge up to 50% off sale on handbags, purses and more - including the ever-loved mini Mayfair

28 minutes ago

Stylish and affordable homeware picks from £35 at Inside Story - the latest home interior brand YOU need to know about (plus, save 20% off your order)

30 minutes ago

Molly Ringwald says she was ‘taken advantage of’ by Hollywood predators

32 minutes ago

Video: Instant karma! Crook tries to rob female store worker... who happens to be a KICKBOXER and pummels him senseless

32 minutes ago

Video: Family of watch dealer Oliver White say he took his own life over 'distress' of being robbed - as firm says thieves posed as clients in three-day '£2.8million' sting but strict security rules were not followed and he should not have been alone

32 minutes ago

Video: Labour meltdown as Diane Abbott says she IS being blocked from standing at election: Keir Starmer branded 'disgraceful' and accused of 'West Wing politics' as row over veteran left-winger mounts

33 minutes ago

OPINION - The Standard View: Keir Starmer's vow to end the 'London bashing' is a welcome message

33 minutes ago

Kate Szepanowski arrives to court as her boyfriend faces $124million cocaine charge

33 minutes ago

ITV GMB viewers slam 'unwatchable' Charlotte Hawkins as she replaces Susanna Reid

33 minutes ago

'Lib Dems defied the odds'

33 minutes ago

Mother of Princess Beatrice's stepson Wolfie poses in stunning outfits at 'exciting' Monaco Grand Prix after saying co-parenting with the Royal is 'so easy' and believes 'the more the merrier' when bringing up children

33 minutes ago

Security vetting of MPs staff ‘concerning’

34 minutes ago

A Case for the Defence: Five Potential Ottawa Senator Free Agent Targets

34 minutes ago

Stars brimming with confidence heading into Game 4 vs. Oilers

34 minutes ago

World Championship could move from Alexandra Palace after ‘Luke Littler effect’

34 minutes ago

Canon demonstrates the power to drive positive change at drupa 2024 through charity and start-up support initiatives

35 minutes ago

Kanye West, Bianca Censori turn heads in latest all-white outfits