One-day internationals (4): Zimbabwe 4, United Arab Emirates 0
This series had a double significance for Zimbabwe. They were desperately in need of international cricket, having not played for five months, and were seeking revenge for a devastating three-run defeat by the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup Qualifier just over a year earlier. Zimbabwe could field a strong side, despite missing their most experienced batsmen - the injured Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza - and had recently completed their domestic season.
But the UAE, whose players were all born in Pakistan or India, arrived for their first bilateral series against a Full Member with an ageing squad (only one was below 29), because their Under-19 team were engaged in their own World Cup qualifier, which they won. "Four or five of them, including some born in the UAE, would have been in contention for the senior squad, but we decided to let them be at full strength for the Under-19 tournament," said their coach, Scotsman Dougie Brown.
With inaugural first-class and 50-over domestic leagues starting in September 2019, Brown was bullish about the UAE's future. Zimbabwe Cricket, whose finances were now strictly supervised by the ICC, felt as if they were still coming to terms with their own tumble out of the mainstream. But the players applied themselves with discipline and conviction, and looked organised and well coached.
Only the most basic, five-camera television coverage was possible, with no third-umpire decisions, even for line calls; when the Dubai-based sponsor Surya Pumps failed to pay the balance, the final two games were not televised at all.
The tourists beat a ZC Chairman's XI in their only warm-up match, with opener Ashfaq Ahmed making an unbeaten 131, but were barely competitive in the one-day series. They were hampered by the unfamiliarity of rainy conditions, which made them look worse than perhaps they were.
In Masakadza's absence, Peter Moor captained Zimbabwe with efficient simplicity, and they were good value for the 4-0 scoreline, their first whitewash for ten years. But it could not come close to compensating for the World Cup elimination inflicted by the UAE a year earlier, which had left the country's professional cricketers grasping for meaning or motivation.