Sharjah: Buoyed by an impressive show at the recent Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Twenty20 Cup in Nepal, the UAE are now aiming for a slot in the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
They finished third in the ACC Twenty20 Cup and qualifed for the Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers, prompting the team management under the guidance of Coach Aquib Javed to dream big.
Though the UAE beat Afghanistan — who went on to emerge as the eventual champions of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in the league round — they bowed to hosts Nepal in the semi-finals.
In the third place playoff, the UAE scored an impressive victory over Hong Kong and staked their claim for the World Cup qualifiers to be held here in November.
Speaking to Gulf News, coach Javed said: “We have qualified for the World Cup qualifiers on merit rather than as just the hosts. Afghanistan had automatically qualified, being a One-Day International team.
“By finishing as one of the top two teams after Afghanistan along with Nepal, we will play in the qualifiers on merit and will give our best shot to clinch a place in next year’s Twenty20 World Cup.”
Javed was delighted by his team’s performance in Nepal.
“Our middle order batting is falling into place with Swapnil Patil and Rohan Mustafa putting up a creditable show. With experienced players like Khurram Khan and Saqib Ali [expected] to be ready for the qualifiers, we will have a strong team,” added Javed.
“We will be selecting a squad with young and agile players like Adil Riyaz, who is a superb fielder. An intense training camp will be held outdoors and indoors so that all areas of the game can be improved,” said Javed.
In the ACC Twenty20 Cup, the UAE beat Kuwait by five wickets, Oman by six wickets and then stunned Afghanistan by six wickets — thanks to pacer Amjad Javed’s fine spell of three wickets for nine runs that wrecked their top order.
Javed also sparkled with the bat in the third place play-off game, cracking an unbeaten 51 off just 25 balls with four sixes and two boundaries to bag his second Man of the Match award.
Commenting on what went wrong with UAE in the crucial match against Nepal, Javed said: “We lost to Nepal not due to lack of skill but due to our inability to handle crowd pressure.
“Over 25,000 people turned up to cheer for Nepal as they were the home team. My players have never experienced such crowd pressure and we dropped a few catches at a crucial juncture. By beating Hong Kong through an impressive margin we have proved that we are far ahead of many teams and I am sure we will make it to the 2014 World Cup.”
Off-spinner Mustafa, who bagged two Man of the Match awards, said: “I bowled well because our team’s fielding was outstanding. We excelled in running between the wickets too. We lost just one match but gained a lot of confidence from the tournament.”
Javed, who also bagged two Man of the Match awards, said: “We did well due to our enthusiasm to perform. We were all competitive and I took it as a challenge to give my best in the crunch games against Afghanistan and Hong Kong. We lost to Nepal due to one bad day.”