The European Division One Championship isn't the only major tournament starting on Friday. Eight hours earlier, ten teams will begin their ACC Trophy Elite campaign, with the significant prize of a place in the 2010 Asia Cup, and the two full One-Day Internationals that go with it, on offer for the finalists.
After a series of mismatches in the 2006 tournament, the ACC have adopted the model used in Europe, Africa and the Americas and split the tournament into two divisions, the ten team "Elite" division and the eight team "Challenge" division, set to take place in Thailand in January.
The UAE will be favourites to pick up their fifth consecutive win (the only other team to win the event is Bangladesh in 1996 and 1998 before becoming a Test nation), but the race for the runners up spot is wide open, with WCL Division Five winners Afghanistan, last years runners-up Hong Kong, hosts Malaysia, Nepal and Singapore all in with a decent chance of making the final. Lets take a look at each team in turn.
Afghanistan come into this tournament on the back of a win in Division Five of the World Cricket League in Jersey, so are the form team. But conditions in Kuala Lumpur at the hottest time of the year will be vastly different to those encountered in Jersey in late Spring. Their batting line-up was often fragile in Jersey and they will need to resist the temptation to hit out that was so apparent two months ago. Key man: Mohammed Nabi
One of the weaker teams in the tournament, Bahrain are here thanks to a surprise 19 run win over Oman (runners up in Division Two of the World Cricket League last year) in the group stage of the 2006 tournament. It has to be said that they are unlikely to make the semi finals, but they will at least hope to beat Saudi Arabia. Key man: Azeem-ul-Haq
Malaysia, hosting the tournament for the third consecutive time, will be hoping to make the most of their home advantage. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are in their group, and they will hope to record a win over two of the weakest teams in the tournament. Afghanistan and the UAE will be a much tougher challenge though. Whilst the UAE are almost untouchable in the ACC Trophy, Malaysia will be hoping that they can emulate neighbours Singapore and record a win over the hit and miss Afghans. Key man: Suresh Navaratnam
Like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia are one of the weaker teams in the tournament. They are here after finishing tenth ahead of Oman on run rate in 2006, entirely thanks to a massive 314 win after scoring 499/6 against the hopelessly outclassed Brunei team. The best they can hope for is a win over Bahrain and a spot in the seventh place play-off. Key man: Sarfraz Ahmed
Easily the best Asian team outside the four full members, the UAE are clear favourites for this tournament. A spot in the semi-finals is virtually guaranteed and they will hope to qualify for their third Asia Cup. They have not had the best of preparations for the event, with the captaincy switching from Saqib Ali to Khurram Khan since the Asia Cup last month, and players withdrawing in protest of the new quota rules to ensure that native Emiratis are better represented in the national side, but they are still the best team in the tournament. Key man: Arshad Ali
Runners-up last time out, Hong Kong will be hoping to repeat that performance this year and reach their third Asia Cup. But they are often a very hit and miss team, and in 2004 finished bottom of their group, losing to Bahrain and Oman. They come of the back of drubbings by Pakistan and India in the Asia Cup, and their confidence will be at a low ebb coming into the tournament, a warm-up defeat against Malaysia not helping matters. Key man: Tabarak Dar
The surprise package in 2004, Kuwait are here as one of the best two third place teams in 2006, though they as they had an extra team in their group, that was hardly surprising. They did get a tie against eventual runners-up Hong Kong, but they owed much of their finish to wins over Bhutan and Myanmar, probably the two weakest teams in the tournament. There will be no such weak teams this year. Key man: Saud Qamar
Technically, Nepal should be the best team in this group, and be easy finalists. But Nepal often fail to live up to expectations and have gained, fairly to be honest, a "chokers" tag. Third place in Division Five of the World Cricket League earlier this year was very much a disappointment for them, and they will hope to set that aside and perform to the best of their availability. Mahaboob Alam will be hoping to show that he can continue the fine form that saw him become the first player to pick up all ten in an international one-day match in Jersey, and he will have fond memories of Malaysia, having taken 7/3 against Myanmar in 2006. Captain Binod Das will hope to be at the toss come the final on the third of August. Key man: Mahaboob Alam
Qatar may have been quarter finalists, thanks to wins over Thailand and Iran, last time out, but they were easily beaten by the UAE, Malaysia and Bahrain in the play-off stage. The weakest team in the group, the best they can hope for is a win over Kuwait. Key man: Omer Taj
Singapore are the dark horses of the event. They finished fifth in Division Five of the World Cricket League, but recorded a win over eventual winners Afghanistan, and it was only an ever so slightly dodgy playing condition that prevented them reaching the semi-finals. The 2006 tournament was the first time they passed the first round, eventually finishing fifth after wins over Malaysia and Bahrain. They will hope to do better this time and reach the semi-finals at the least. Key man: Buddhika Mendis