The UAE have done their confidence a world of good by thrashing Bermuda en route to the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Intercontinental Shield. That could come in handy ahead of the upcoming ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Two tournament, another ICC event, which the Emirates will host in March next year.
The UAE completed a comprehensive, nine-wicket victory over Bermuda in the Caribbean late on Wednesday night. Having dismissed the home team for just 56 on the opening day, the UAE took a first innings lead of 300 with Arshad Ali, the opener, smashing a brilliant 126. Ahmed Raza then took four wickets as Bermuda folded up for 332 in the second innings before the UAE reached the 33-run target with relative ease.
The victory in the four-team competition - which allows non-Test-playing nations the chance to develop by playing four-day games - gave the UAE 20 points from the game and took their tally to 37, which means they will face Uganda or Namibia in the final that starts on November 25. But Mazhar Khan, a senior administrator at the Emirates Cricket Board, said their eyes were on another prize - the WCL.
Doing well will earn them a place in the 2013 World Cup qualifying tournament, which in turn could help the team book a berth in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The WCL is a complex, eight-division tournament, comprising non-Test-playing nations and played over three years. Countries are promoted and relegated, but if the UAE finish in the top four of the six-team Division Two, they will earn a spot in the qualifiers.
Also competing in the March tournament are the UAE's three opponents in the ICC Shield - Namibia, Bermuda and Uganda - and two still-unknown qualifiers. "The board is working on a plan to prepare ourselves for Division Two," Khan said, adding that the UAE would most likely play warm-up games against higher-ranked nations to prepare. "We are working on a trip for the boys to Kenya and Zimbabwe. That will be in October-November and hopefully it will give our team some good matches.
"Kenya are keen to play against us as a preparation for the World Cup in January and February next year. They need a few games and we are working with them. Also, Zimbabwe are keen for us to come there and have some games against their A team." For now, Khan is happy with the progress being made. "I think it was a team effort," he said, referring to their latest win. "Everyone chipped in and I think it was quite a comprehensive win.
"They knew they had to [beat Bermuda] to reach the final and that was their objective from this game." Now they will play the final in Dubai in November. firstname.lastname@example.org