World Cup Qualifier Final preview
Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will lock horns in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ) in an official ODI at Lincoln Oval, Christchurch, in a match that will determine which Pool they will join at cricket's pinnacle event, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
The two teams secured their positions in Saturday's final, as well as a spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, after recording victories on the last day of the Super Six stage of the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 on Thursday. Scotland and UAE now complete the 14-team line up for the 2015 event, and will compete alongside the 10 Full Members, Afghanistan and Ireland.
The winner of the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 final, which will be live-streamed on the official ICC website www.icc-cricket.com on Saturday, will join Afghanistan, four-time champion Australia, co-host New Zealand, Bangladesh, three-time finalist England, and 1996 champion Sri Lanka in Pool A of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
The losing finalist will be placed in Pool B along with defending champion India, Ireland, 1992 champion Pakistan, South Africa, two-time champion West Indies and Zimbabwe.
The sides have already faced each other once during this tournament, in a group match played at Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown, an encounter that Scotland won by 53 runs thanks to a rapid-fire century by opener Calum MacLeod (113 from 97 balls).
Prior to that, the UAE and Scotland last locked horns in 50-over cricket in two ICC World Cricket League Championship encounters in March 2012, which the UAE won by four wickets and two wickets respectively.
The UAE, which was the number-one ranked side for the tournament, goes into Saturday's final as the leading team from the Super Six stage, having sealed its spot at the top of the table with a 36 runs victory over Namibia at Rangiora Oval, Christchurch, on Thursday.
The UAE will be searching for its second ICC CWCQ trophy, having won the ICC CWCQ, which was then known as the ICC Trophy, in 1994. That victory led to the side's only appearance in the ICC Cricket World Cup, in 1996, where the team recorded a seven-wicket victory over the Netherlands.
UAE skipper Khurram Khan was thrilled to see his side qualify for its second ICC Cricket World Cup. "You can't describe in words the feeling. I've been playing for UAE since 2001 and it is an amazing feeling to help my team to qualify."
Reflecting on his side's performances to date in the tournament, the skipper felt that his side has the all-round capability necessary for the final. "Everybody chipped in. The top order scored runs and the fast bowlers replied to the call and played superbly. It's just called teamwork.
"The hard work we have put in has paid off. The way we have worked together and performed when we needed to," he said.
Scotland secured its spot in the final after recording a nail-biting three wicket victory over Kenya at Hagley Oval, Christchurch. Seeded third in the tournament, Scotland finished second in the Super Six table to advance to its third ICC Cricket World Cup, having previously played in 1999 and 2007. The side also won the ICC CWCQ in 2005.
Scotland captain Preston Mommsen said that qualification to the 14-team ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was a momentous occasion for his side. "It is absolutely awesome, we have worked really hard to get to this position and to actually get over the line is unbelievable."
The skipper was delighted that his team had performed well under pressure in Thursday's match against Kenya, knowing that Hong Kong could pip it to a spot at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. "We had heard the news that Hong Kong had a pretty convincing win, so it might have added a bit more pressure. But we wanted to win and we got over the line. It was a massive team effort."
Mommsen said that Thursday's result demonstrated that his side has what it takes to win the tournament. "We want to leave this tournament as the number one team, so we will be going full on for that."
By virtue of finishing in the top four of the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014, the UAE, Scotland, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea have attained ODI status until 2018. They are joined by Afghanistan and Ireland, who qualified directly to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after finishing in the top two of the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2011-13 and securing the first two qualification spots at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.