UAE will use the ACC Under 19 Elite tournament in Malaysia next month as preparation before they host the U19 World Cup in 2014, writes Amith Passela.
UAE Under 19 cricket team to visit Malaysia next month for ACC Cup
The next nine months for UAE's aspiring young cricketers are all about preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when the Emirates hosts the ICC Under 19 World Cup in February 2014.
The journey for some begins with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Under 19 Elite tournament in Malaysia from May 3 to 11, a qualification tournament for the U19 World Cup.
While the outcome of the ACC event in Malaysia will not affect the UAE, as they have already qualified as host nation, places in the squad are still up for grabs.
The tour party will be without several key members due to a clash with school exams, but it will provide a window of opportunity for those selected to prove their credentials.
"It's a big privilege for us to host the U19 World Cup. But our boys will travel to Malaysia with an objective to finish as the winners," said Mazhar Khan, the administrator of Emirates Cricket Board (ECB).
The UAE will be led by captain Rohit Singh Jamwal, a top-order batsman and medium bowler who is playing in his second ACC Elite U19 Cup.
"We know we have already qualified but we are not going with that mindset and we will put our best show and try to finish on the top," said Jamwal, who was born in Dubai to Indian parents.
"At the moment we are not looking beyond the ACC Cup. It is an excellent opportunity for most of us to put our skills and talents to practice against strong opponents.
"Most of us have been playing together for the ECB Greens in the domestic tournaments and know each other quite well."
Jamwal, 19, a first-year engineering student at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, previously played for the UAE in the U15 ACC Elite Cup in 2007 and the U19 ACC Elite Cup in 2011.
"We have prepared well from the camp we have had at Sharjah three days a week. Now is the time to get some good performances next to everyone's name," he said.
Ten teams will be participating. The UAE have been placed in Group A alongside Afghanistan, whom they meet in the opener, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia. Group B is made up of Nepal, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, and Kuwait.
Only one team can qualify for the World Cup from the ACC Elite Cup and, if the UAE win, the runner-up will join the 16-team championship which involves all Test playing nations and qualifiers from the ICC's associates and affiliate members across the continents.
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