ICC Media Release
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been quick to shift its attention to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2009 after its ICC Intercontinental Cup campaign ended on Sunday with five defeats in seven matches.
The UAE, which appeared in the semi-final of the inaugural tournament in 2004 and again in 2005, lost to Canada (by an innings and 228 runs), Namibia (by 40 runs), Kenya (by 81 runs), Ireland (by nine wickets) and the Netherlands (by 64 runs) while its only success came against Bermuda (by 138 runs). Bad weather permitted only 44 overs in its drawn opener against Scotland at Ayr.
But UAE captain Saqib Ali says the experience of this tournament will help his team to prepare for the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2009 from which four teams will join the 10 Full Members in the 14-team ICC Cricket World Cup to be staged in the Asian subcontinent.
'It was a disappointing tournament for us but the positive side is that it has helped us assess ourselves as a cricketing nation,' said Saqib.
'We now exactly know where we stand, what we need to do to improve and how to finish in top four of the ICC World Cup Qualifier.'
The UAE qualified for the ICC World Cup Qualifier by winning the World Cup League Division 2 in Windhoek last year in November-December. Oman, Namibia and Denmark are the other teams from the Windhoek tournament to join Kenya, Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Bermuda which earned automatic qualification in the Qualifier by virtue of their places in WCL Div. 1.
The tally of teams will rise to 12 by the finalists from WCL Div. 3 which will be staged next year in Argentina from 24 to 31 January.
'We would have liked to be part of the ICC Intercontinental Cup until the end but if we are eliminated early, it's simply because we were not at par with the rest of the team in terms of experience as we were never short of talent.
'Nevertheless, we can utilize this extra time by setting targets for ourselves in the one-day arena. Obviously, one of the things on which we have to work a lot harder is our fielding and fitness which are extremely vital in limited-overs cricket,' said Saqib.
According to the 29-year-old batsman, the ICC Intercontinental Cup helped his team win the WCL Div. 2. 'We traveled to Windhoek after defeating Bermuda in the ICC Intercontinental Cup which gave us huge confidence as we won that match by 81 runs after conceding a 102-run first-innings lead.'
In the WCL Div. 2, the UAE defeated Oman in the final by 67 runs – thanks to centuries from Arshad Ali (133) and Mohammad Iqbal (111). However, its greatest run-chase was against Namibia when it achieved the amazing 359-run target in 45.3 overs with five wickets to spare.
'You can only win matches like these if you are bubbling with confidence and I think the ICC Intercontinental Cup victory over Bermuda gave us that confidence and motivation.
'It also reflects that we are a better one-day team as compared to four-day cricket but naturally, fielding and fitness are the areas we will have to work extremely hard if we have to earn tickets to the Asian subcontinent,' said Saqib.
Saqib led the UAE by example in the ICC intercontinental Cup when he finished with 690 runs at an average of 57.5. Former captain Arshad Ali was the second leading run-getter for his team with 336 runs while Khurram Khan (249) and wicketkeeper Amjad Ali (223) were the other notable scorers.
Arshad Ali and Khurram Khan, with 17 wickets apiece, were the pick of the UAE bowlers while Ahmed Raza and Fahad Alhashmi took 10 wickets each.