THE United Arab Emirates played to form in beating an inspired Malaysia by five wickets in the ACC Women's T20 Championship final at the Kinrara Oval yesterday.
With both teams having secured passage to the T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh this October, there was just a little matter of the trophy winners to be decided in what was the first international final for the national women's team.
UAE, 14th in the ICC women's T20I rankings, reached 101 for five to overhaul 33rd-ranked Malaysia's 100 for four in a repeat of their nine-wicket win over the hosts in the group stage last Monday.
Captain Winifred Duraisingam could not be prouder of her teammates in what was the Malaysian women's best achievement.
"We are feeling good about qualifying for the Asia Cup, we could have won this, but it didn't go our way," said Winifred, who scored two half-centuries in the tournament.
"I have to thank the girls for giving their 100 per cent in this tournament as well as the coaches and staff and the Malaysian Cricket Association for trusting us and giving us this opportunity."
After the UAE sped to 19-0 in two overs, Aisya Elees Firdauz took a caught and bowled chance in dismissing UAE opener Esha Oza to spark initial jubilant scenes.
Theertha Satish, however, kept UAE going to score 55 runs, including nine boundaries, until the exit of the player of the final and the tournament through a run out sparked the fall of three wickets in the space of seven deliveries.
As UAE slumped to 91-5, it briefly raised hopes of an upset, but UAE ticked off the 10 runs they needed with tentative singles to secure the title with eight balls to spare.
Earlier, choosing to bat first on winning the toss, Malaysia suffered a blow following the dismissals of Winifred Duraisingam and Mas Elysa Yasmin Zulkifli to slump to 22-2 after six overs.
But an unbeaten 53-run stand for the fifth wicket by Ainna Hamzah Hashim (28) and Arianna Natasya Been Rakqidean (25) lifted Malaysian spirits as they reached three figures to give the bowlers a target to defend.
Malaysia 100-4 (Ainna Hamizah 28 n.o, Arianna Natasya 25 n.o, Wan Julia 20, N Indhuja 2-12)
UAE 101-5 in 18.4 overs (S Theertha 55, Aisya Eleesa 1-10). UAE won by 5 wickets.