ICC Media Release
United Arab Emirates (UAE) goes head-to-head with Bermuda in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in Abu Dhabi from Thursday with one eye on this month's ICC World Cricket League division 2.
Besides UAE, Argentina, Uganda, Denmark, Oman and Namibia will take part in the WCL Div.2 that will be staged in Windhoek, Namibia from 24 November to 1 December.
While the bottom two teams from the Windhoek event will be relegated to WCL Div.3, the top four teams will qualify for the ICC World Cup Qualifier (formerly ICC Trophy) in UAE in April 2009 where they will be joined by Kenya, Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Bermuda. The leading teams from the ICC World Cup Qualifier will go through to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 to be staged in the Asian subcontinent.
Newly-appointed UAE captain Saqib Ali says his team has three weeks tough ahead of it. 'Both the events are extremely important for our development and growth as a cricketing nation but if I have to pick the most important one, I will go for WCL Div.2 because it gives us an opportunity to inch closer to our dreams of playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup,' said Ali who has played five first-class matches but is yet to make an ODI debut.
The only time the UAE played in the ICC Cricket World Cup was in 1996, when it was staged in the Asian subcontinent.
'But while we keep an eye on WCL Div.2, we are aware of the significance of ICC Intercontinental Cup and are concentrating and focusing on the match against Bermuda as hard as any other international match. It will not only give us an opportunity to get back in contention for a place in the final, it will give us the much-needed practice ahead of the Namibian tour.
'The boys have been playing club cricket but there is no replacement for international cricket. All of us want to make the best use of the Bermuda match,' said 29-year-old Ali.
Ali was wary of the fact that Bermuda was struggling in the competition and had lost all three games, including two by an innings and the other by eight wickets against Kenya earlier this week. 'Obviously it goes to our advantage that we will be playing against a team which is low in confidence after a series of big defeats,' he said.
'But that doesn't mean we start under-estimating them. We will have to respect them and play as hard as possible. Complacency can be our biggest enemy and we have to avoid that situation.'
It will be UAE's third match in the ICC Intercontinental Cup. Only 46 overs were possible in its opener against Scotland at Ayr while it lost by an innings and 228 runs to Canada in Toronto. Ali admitted his team had learnt from the Canadian tour.
'We lost badly in Canada because we had traveled to Toronto with almost no practice and to compound our problems we played in alien conditions where the ball seamed and swung. However, Abu Dhabi is our home ground and the conditions are not new to us. We have played a lot of cricket here and I am sure we will be able to utilize the home advantage.
'The wicket basically suits the batsmen more than the bowlers but there is enough for the bowlers if they bend their backs or stick of basics. However, the team that fields well will have an advantage because we have to hold every catch and convert half-chances when you playing in conditions that are more suited to batsmen,' he added.
It will be Saqib Ali's debut as UAE captain and the middle-order batsman confirmed he is looking forward to the new challenge. 'It's a big honour to lead your country in an ICC tournament and I look forward to this new role. I thank all those who trusted in my abilities and I hope to justify their decision.'
Bermuda is all but out of the finals race, trailing at the bottom of the points table following three successive defeats. However, there were still positives from the most recent game against Kenya - the superb batting performance of David Hemp who scored 97 and 68 not out, and good bowling by fast bowler Kevin Hurdle (4-98) and left-arm spinner Dwayne Leverock (4-113).
UAE squad: Saqib Ali (captain), Javed Ismail, Abdul Rehman, Ahmed Raza, Alawi Shukri, Arshad Ali, Gayan Silva, Irfan Ahmed, Naeemuddin Aslam, Owais Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Shadeep Silva, Qassim Zubair, Kashif Khan.
Bermuda squad: Irving Romaine (captain), David Hemp, Dwayne Leverock, Lionel Cann, Jekon Edness, Stephen Outerbridge, James Celestine, Kevin Hurdle, Rodney Trott, Malachi Jones, Tamauri Tucker, Jeneiro Tucker, Kyle Hodsoll, Azeem Pitcher, Kian Butterfield.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove and Buddhi Pradhan