x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE's cricket World Cup dream draws a step closer

Successive wins over Scotland leapfroggs the UAE into second place in the World Cricket League Championship table after six games. They now lie level on points with Ireland at the top of the new league system.

UAE wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil, left, starts his celebration after the wicket post is split in the opening minutes of the match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium against Scotland.
UAE wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil, left, starts his celebration after the wicket post is split in the opening minutes of the match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium against Scotland.

Maybe the UAE's cricketers should be allowed to indulge themselves just a little more in that dream they have about qualifying for the World Cup, after they capped a fine few days with victory over Scotland on Friday.

When Swapnil Patil dragged the national team across the winning line against the Scots on Wednesday, he said that the idea of playing on the world stage was at the back of all their minds.

Perhaps it edged forward a touch when Shaiman Anwar guided the home side to a tense two wicket win with one ball to spare at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.

This week has been a good one for cricket here.

Their successive wins over Scotland meant they leapfrogged their guests into second place in the World Cricket League Championship table after six games.

They now lie level on points with Ireland at the top of the new league system which determines the first two qualifiers for the 2015 showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.

If they do eventually make it there, they might have to alter their prevailing plan, which is built so entirely on slow-bowlers.

They set up their second win against the Scots by sending down 47 - out of the maximum 50 - overs of spin, with Arshad Ali taking three wickets and Shadeep Silva, Ahmed Raza and Vikrant Shetty two each.

Shaiman then marshalled a nervous run chase with his second half-century in the space of three days.

Aaqib Javed, the new UAE coach, believes the landscape of the game in this country would be considerably altered if the national team did make it to the World Cup.

"They have a good chance of qualifying for the World Cup, and [if] they get through I think the local people, the administration and the media would be supportive," he said.

"The players at the moment work for five or six days. If they were to qualify for the World Cup, I think their employers would be slightly lenient and supportive to them."

Before they can enjoy any of that pleasure, the national team's players are likely to feel some considerable pain, however.

Aaqib is big on fitness - the coach runs laps of the field between innings - and he has specified it as an area his part-time players need to improve on.

"The one thing I noticed is they are not physically very fit," the former Pakistan bowler, 39, said after his first four days at the helm. "They have less time to train because of work, but I said to them that if I can still stay fit at this age, you can just try and follow me. I think I will set some good standards for them.

"We have a good three months to get fit [before their next assignment in the Netherlands].

"They are going to hate me."

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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