Afghanistan beat UAE by two wickets in the 3rd ODI at Sharjah to stay alive in the four-match ODI series © Getty Images (File Photo)
Afghanistan beat UAE by two wickets in the 3rd ODI at Sharjah to stay alive in the four-match ODI series © Getty Images (File Photo)

By Ankur Dhawan

Dec 4, 2014

The two micro-minnows of world Cricket, UAE and Afghanistan, will lock horns in what will be a deciding contest. Afghanistan scrapped through by the skin of their teeth in the previous ODI to keep the series alive.  UAE may come to rue the numerous opportunities they had to close the series then and there. But the voyeuristic cricket fan will be thrilled to see the two teams slug it out in the last ODI with the series still on the line.

UAE have looked the better of the two sides holistically. It’s only fair that they lead two-one. Their captain Khurram Khan has led the way with two noteworthy half centuries and a smashing hundred which saw him break into the record books in the second ODI. UAE, though, must guard against over dependence on their skipper and would like the top order to chip in or even emulate Khan’s efforts in order to seal the deal.

Afghanistan have been patchy so far. They were outplayed in the first two ODIs, but to their credit they held their nerve to clinch a cliffhanger in the third ODI. They’d hope for a similar spirited effort when they take the field on Thursday for what will also be the last competitive match for the two teams before the ICC World Cup 2015.

Afghanistan’s biggest challenge is to keep up their intensity over the course of the entire 50 overs. Especially with the bat, they tend to begin brightly and then get dumbstruck at the fall of a wicket or two before eventually fizzling away. A day-night game offers a slightly different dimension to the contest. The toss maybe crucial as there could be dew on the outfield in the evening. In case there isn’t any dew then the ball could dart around under the lights. The two captains will have plenty to ponder over before they step onto the park for a final time to decide the fate of this four match series.

Squads:

UAE: Amjad Ali, Andri Berenger, Saqib Ali, Khurram Khan (c), Swapnil Patil (wk) , Mohammad Shahzad, Krishnachandran Karate, Shaiman Anwar, Amjad Javed, Manjula Guruge, Salman Farooq, Ahmed Raza, Faizan Asif, Fayyaz Ahmed, Kamran Shazad, Mohammad Naveed, Mohammad Tauqir, Nasir Aziz, Saqlain Haider

Afghanistan: Usman Ghani, Nawroz Mangal, Afsar Zazai (wk), Mohammad Nabi (c), Samiullah Shenwari, Asghar Stanikzai, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Dawlat Ahmedzai, Javed Ahmadi, Najibullah Zadran, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Mirwais Ashraf, Nasir Jamal, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Aftab Alam, Farid Malik

Time: 15:30 IST | 10:00 GMT

(Ankur Dhawan is a reporter with CricketCountry. Heavily influenced by dystopian novels, he naturally has about 59 conspiracy theories for every moment in the game of cricket. On finding a direct link between his head and the tip of his fingers, he also writes about it)