Few gave UAE a chance in the series but they caused a massive upset in the second T20I, not just beating Ireland but doing it by quite a margin.
The 54-run victory kept the series alive and set us up for an exciting finale.
The architects of UAE’s surprise win were several. Batting first, their opener Chirag Suri scored 51 off 44, which though important, was a bit on the slower side. Thus, Basil Hamid (39 off 20) and Kashif Daud (12 off 7) provided late fireworks.
With the ball, they had two distinct heroes. Palaniapan Meiyappan was the star of the show stats-wise, as evident by his figures of 25-4. That said, the impact of Akif Raja up front could not be ignored. His demolition job up front wrecked the Irish top order and laid the ground work on which Meiyappan did his work.
As in the opening T20I, the Irish got off to a brilliant start in the second T20I, removing UAE opener Muhammad Waseem for a duck but that’s where the similarities ended.
Instead of rolling over their hosts again, they faced uncharacteristic and unlikely resurgence, and a stubbornness missing in the series opener.
A target of 164 should still not have troubled the Irish batting unit that carries much more talent than the Middle East side. But UAE bowlers never let the Irish batters settled, dealing damage at regular intervals and eventually folding their visitors for a mere 109.
The highest scorer was Curtis Campher with 22, but other than that no one could really do anything of note.