x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Teams more evenly matched in short format, says Aaqib

The UAE are one of the favourites to be among the six teams to qualify for the 2014 World Twenty20 Cup as the hosts begin their campaign against Uganda on Friday.

Aaqib Javed says stronger teams have only a ‘60-40’ chance of beating weaker sides in T20. Satish Kumar / The National
Aaqib Javed says stronger teams have only a ‘60-40’ chance of beating weaker sides in T20. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // The UAE are expected to be among the six teams to progress from the 16-team qualifier into the World Twenty20 Cup next year in Bangladesh.

Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, rates his team’s chances to qualify as “good” but warned his players that the margin for error is minimal in the shortest format of the game.

His team begin their journey with a meeting with Uganda in the Group A opener on Friday at the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council Oval 1.

It will be followed by games against Namibia, Ireland, Hong Kong, Canada, Italy and the United States, in that order.

“We are positive of our chances,” he said. “It is not only us, even the other teams feel that we have a good chance to be among the six qualifiers. So let’s see what is in store for us.

“I think we have a good chance, particularly the bowling as we have more options than any other teams. If we can manage with our fielding then I think we can do it.

“Batting and bowling are skills, and fielding is fitness. If we can train six days a week, which we cannot, as all the players have day jobs, we can improve in this area.

“If they give me 20 players to train full-time, I can fix it within six months, but otherwise this is going to be an area of concern because part-time cricketers cannot be good fielders.”

The UAE lost to Nepal in their first warm-up match in Dubai on Tuesday and Aaqib blamed it on the “four to five” catches they dropped. They bounced back to beat Denmark in a second warm-up game in Abu Dhabi the following day.

Aaqib picked out Ireland as the obvious team to beat while he says Canada, Namibia, and Uganda are “not bad” in the T20 format.

“In my opinion if you compare teams in the four-day games, the stronger team has a 80-20 chance of winning over the weaker side, in the 50 over-a-side format it is about 70-30 and in the T20 the equation is 60-40,” he said. “What we have so far developed is that we now have between 40 to 50 players to select from. When I first came, this number was between 20 to 24.”

Aaqib has done well to raise their levels since taking charge of the team in April last year.

He took them to third place in the eight-team ICC World Cricket League Championship behind Ireland and Afghanistan, who booked their passage to the 2015 World Cup from that result.

The UAE also finished fourth in the ICC Intercontinental Cup behind Ireland, Afghanistan, and Scotland. “I am quite happy on how the team is shaping up because they have understood they need to work hard to be on the team,” he said.

In January, the UAE travel to New Zealand for the 2015 Cricket World Cup play-offs. The Netherlands, UAE, Kenya, Namibia, Canada, Uganda, Hong Kong, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea and Scotland will be vying for the two remaining places.

apassela@thenational.ae