|ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-2013|
Afghanistan cling on for draw
Defending champions Afghanistan preserved their unbeaten run in the Intercontinental Cup, but only just, after a desperate rearguard action defied the UAE on the final day of their game in Sharjah.
Resuming overnight on 212 for 5, any decision on when the UAE should declare was taken out of their hands as the last five wickets crumbled for the addition of just 16 runs, with Mirwais Ashraf (4-20) doing the damage.
That meant Afghanistan would require 363 to win with a minimum of 76 overs to face. However any notion of victory quickly disappeared as UAE made serious inroads into the Afghan line-up, with wickets falling at regular intervals.
Amjad Javed (2-23) removed Karim Sadiq and Mohammed Shahzad, while Fayaz Ahmed accounted for the skipper Nowroz Mangal to leave Afghanistan floundering on 30 for 3.
A rejigged batting order saw Afghanistan recover to 70 for 3, before Arshad Ali dismissed Mirwais Ashraf, Hamza Hotak and Javed Ahmadi (49) in quick succession.
First innings centurion Mohammed Nabi dug in, and frustrated the UAE's best efforts, in his dogged 35 not out which took 153 balls. When you consider he hit 3 sixes and 3 fours in his stay at the crease, it means he faced 147 balls for just five singles - a marvellous feat of concentration for a normally free scoring batsman.
Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari also batted with restraint and UAE ran out of time with Afghanistan on 131 for 7 after 80 overs.
UAE gain 9 points for the winning draw, while Afghanistan claim 3. Both sides are in joint second place in the table with 23 points from their first two games, 17 points behind leaders Ireland.
The sides meet again today (Monday), and Wednesday in the altogether much more vital One-Day league, with points at stake to help qualification for the 2015 World Cup on offer.
Afghanistan will start as favourites, but UAE has shown themselves to have no fear of their higher ranked opponent in recent weeks, and with Khurram Khan at the helm, they have no better coach who will know every weakness of the Afghanistan regime.