The UAE cricket team is fast sinking in the quicksand of corruption and moral breakdown.
At a time when the country is staging the ICC World T20 Qualifiers, four key UAE players have been suspended as part of the ICC anti-corruption investigation. Despite the setback, the UAE began their campaign reasonably well, winning two of their first three matches.
But there's now a new twist in the tale.
On Tuesday, the UAE, in their fourth match of the Qualifiers against Jersey, got off to a flying start, reaching 60/0 in just eight overs, chasing 148.
With 88 runs needed from 12 overs with all 10 wickets in hand, the UAE were on track for their third win.
But the home team suffered a stunning collapse, losing 10 wickets for just 52 runs.
It seemed something was wrong in the team, especially considering the manner in which they lost wickets.
And then the UAE cricket team manager Peter Kelly broke the news: Ghulam Shabber has left the squad without informing anyone and is now in Pakistan. Shabber hadn't turned up for the 11am team meeting and the bus had left for the stadium without him for the Hong Kong match on Monday.
"We were concerned for his well-being. We contacted the next of his kin and the numbers we had for him. We searched hospitals, etc. We checked if he was at home. We found out that he had left the country. We know he is safe, but don't know the reasons why he has gone."
Kelly clarified that Shabbir wasn't part of the anti-corruption investigation and said efforts were on to understand the reason behind his drastic step.
"It (leaving unexpectedly) is out of his nature. We are unsure why he left. He was not a part of the anti-corruption investigation," Kelly said. "He has travelled to Pakistan." Left with 13 players, Kelly is unsure about the next step.
The UAE need to beat Nigeria on Thursday and Canada on Sunday to reach the next stage.
The team's head coach Dougie Brown is disappointed with the developments on and off the pitch.
"It has been frustrating for everybody. But we have managed to stay together as a group. The players deserve a lot of credit for how they have dealt with the situation," he said.
He underlined that corruption issues haven't distracted the players.
"The guys play in these pitches every week. They have a method that enables them to be successful in these conditions. Today, for whatever reason, we went away from our plans. If you don't bring your practice into game situations, you suffer. We have two games now. We need to win both to give ourselves a chance to get to next stages."
Jersey beat UAE by 35 runs. Jersey 147 all out in 20 overs (Benjamin Ward 47, Jonty Jenner 20; Junaid Siddique 2/34, Zahoor Khan 2/39, Rohan Mustafa 1/13). UAE 112 all out in 19.2 overs (Rohan Mustafa 28, Chirag Suri 27; Harrison Carlyon 3/15, Ben Stevens 3/20).
Netherlands beat Singapore by five wickets. Singapore 101 all out in 18.5 overs. (Surendran Chandramohan 28, Aritra Dutta 20; Timm van der Gugten 3/9; Roelof van der Merwe 3/22). Netherlands 104/5 in 16.3 overs (Max O'Dowd 35, Colin Ackermann 34 not out; Janak Prakash 1/12).
Namibia beat Scotland by 24 runs. Namibia 159/6 in 20 overs (JJ Smit 43, Gerhard Erasmus 37, Craig Williams 31; Josh Davey 2/29). Scotland 135/8 in 20 overs (Calum MacLeod 39, Richie Berrington 23; Jan Frylinck 2/15, Christi Viljoen 2/24).
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