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On top of the world

On top of the world
The name at the top of the World Cup run-scorers’ list at the end of Pakistan’s convincing win over United Arab Emirates last Wednesday wasn’t Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle or Hashim Amla. Nor was it AB de Villiers, Lahiru Thirimanne or David Warner.

It was Shaiman Anwar, the UAE middle-order batsman who has taken the tournament by storm with 270 runs in four innings at an average of 67.5. While those other batsmen, along with the other six making up the top 10 in the runs tally, are full-time professional cricketers. Anwar took leave from his day job to play in the World Cup. Anwar’s preparation for the World Cup was the same as that of his amateur teammates: months of managing a careful juggling act between full-time work and long hours of training.

But the toil has clearly paid off. Anwar’s form in the tournament to date has been the cornerstone of a dogged UAE outfit. Competitive against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka before being blown away by India, the Emirates team again dug in chasing a big Pakistan total in Napier, never troubling the run rate but at the same time refusing to bow down and be bowled out.

Anwar’s stellar tournament started with a flashy 67 off 50 balls against Zimbabwe which propelled his team to a competitive 285. Against Ireland, his 106 off 83 balls was crucial and carried the UAE from 78-4 to 269-8 when he was dismissed. It was the first century scored by a UAE player in a World Cup match and only the team’s second in ODIs. Upon reaching three figures, a mega-watt smile light up Anwar’s face, he knelt on his knees and he threw out his arms. It was obvious to see how much it meant. In both innings, Anwar played fearlessly and with unbridled enthusiasm, enjoying the opportunity to score runs for his team on cricket’s biggest stage.

He was at it again against Pakistan, digging in for a gritty 62 from 88 deliveries, having come to the crease with the UAE in trouble at 25-3. Like many of his teammates Anwar was born in Pakistan, where he played domestic cricket before receiving an offer in 2007 to play club cricket in UAE. He accepted and after finding employment with a shipping firm, relocated permanently to the UAE. Two years later, he made his international debut for his adopted country.
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