ICC Media Release
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has kept its hopes alive for direct qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with victory over Namibia in the first do-or-die clash of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday, and will look for back-to-back victories when the sides face off again on Sunday.
The host, who played in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996, kept itself in the running for direct qualification to the ICC's flagship 50-over event after winning its first 50-over match on Friday by 158 runs.
The UAE needs a clean sweep of its double-header against Namibia to stay in the race for direct qualification, and, in so doing, will knock another contender, the Netherlands, out of the running.
If the UAE wins the second match on Sunday to record a clean sweep, it will leapfrog the Netherlands into second position based on the number of matches won. The side will then have to wait nervously to see if the only remaining contender, third-ranked Afghanistan, is able to overtake it by winning both of its ODIs against Kenya on 2 and 4 October, also at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
However, if the UAE loses Sunday's 50-over match, it will be out of the running for the second and final direct qualification spot to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. If Afghanistan then also loses one of its two matches, it too will drop out of the race, and the Netherlands will join Ireland as the second team to qualify directly to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
The UAE currently leads Namibia eight to three on head-to-head, and has enjoyed ideal preparation for the critical final encounter, having defeated Namibia in both the first 50-over WCL Championship match on Friday, as well as a nine wicket victory in the countries' first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup clash earlier in the week.
In the Championship, the UAE has won eight of its 12 matches, including victories against Kenya (by four wickets), Afghanistan (by 15 runs and 69 runs), Scotland (by four wickets and two wickets) and Canada (by two wickets and 46 runs), as well as Friday's victory over Namibia.
In Sunday's do-or-die match, the home side will again look to its decisive spinning quartet of Khurram Khan, Nasir Aziz, Shadeep Silva and Ahmed Raza, who have claimed 61 wickets between them in the tournament to date. Skipper Khurram Khan, who shared a nine-wicket haul with Shadeep Silva and Ahmed Raza in Friday's match giving away just 26 runs, has now become the seventh highest wicket-taker of the tournament.
With the bat, hard-hitting Shaiman Anwar has moved one step closer to becoming the highest run-getter of the tournament following his half century on Friday, the highest individual score of the match (54). Anwar, who was awarded the ACC Emerging Cup Player of the tournament award in August, is now only 27 runs behind Kyle Coetzer of Scotland, having scored 568 runs from 13 matches.
However, while the host has won the last six encounters between the two sides, Namibia will be looking to take advantage of its experience to overcome the pressure and record a final victory in the tournament.
Namibia last defeated the UAE in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Pretoria in April 2009 (by 49 runs), and will look to current captain Raymond van Schoor and former skipper Craig Williams, who are the 10th and 12th highest run-getters of the tournament, to lead the way with the bat. Right-handed Williams has recorded two of the four highest scores of the tournament (116 from 117 deliveries against Scotland, and 116 from 121 deliveries against Netherlands), as well as the most centuries (two), after six rounds.
Namibia, who played in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003, also holds the tournament records for the highest partnerships for the third wicket (191), sixth wicket (85 not out), seventh wicket (71) and eighth wicket (70) to date, with skipper van Schoor a key contributor. Sarel Burger and Craig Williams' third-wicket partnership of 191, against Scotland in September 2011, is the highest partnership of the tournament to date.
With the ball, the young squad will look to Christi Viljoen, who captured the key wicket of Anwar in Friday's 50-over match, the third-highest wicket-taker of the tournament (19).
While the top two sides from the Pepsi ICC WCL Championship will qualify automatically for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the bottom six teams will receive a second chance to advance at next year's ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand, when they will lock horns with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda for the final two spots in the ICC's flagship 50-over tournament.