Dubai: High-flying UAE cricket team are ready for the big challenge in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier A and coach Robin Singh feels a positive approach and faith in the team will be the key to their success.
The UAE have been in Oman for the last two weeks and have beaten Oman 2-0 in the three-match One-Day Internationals, with the third ending on a tie. They have also beaten Ireland and Nepal in the quadrangular T20 International series with the lone loss coming at the hands of hosts Oman on Monday, their last match before the qualifiers against Ireland on Friday.
Speaking to Gulf News on the eve of the opener against Ireland, Robin Singh said: “We need to play solid cricket in the World Cup qualifiers. A positive approach and trusting ourselves are key to overcome the challenges.”
UAE openers Chirag Suri and Mohammed Waseem have been in impressive form in the earlier games in Oman and the UAE will once again look for a strong start against Ireland at Al Amerat grounds in Muscat. Vriitya Aravind and all-rounder Basil Hameed will also need to continue their good run to guide UAE in their journey towards Australia.
The UAE skipper Ahmed Raza said that the recent quadrangular series at Al Amerat was a great help to their preparations. “We got used to the conditions and the matches provided a platform for us to test our combinations. We hope to carry our good form from the quadrangular series to the qualifiers,” he added in a statement released by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Lot at stake
A lot is at stake for the eight participating nations — Ireland, Nepal, UAE, Canada, Germany, Philippines, Bahrain, and hosts Oman — as they vie for the two spots. The Qualifier A, supported by Dream 11, is one of the two global qualifiers that is part of the final stages of qualification process of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. A total of 20 matches will decide the two teams that will travel to Australia later this year.
The eight-nation tournament features an experienced Ireland side, who are set to face a fight from in-form UAE, hosts Oman, and Nepal as the quartet boast of experience at playing at the global stage. However, with teams like Canada, Germany, Bahrain, and the Philippines eager to showcase their mettle, a few surprises certainly in store.
Each team will play all the other teams in the group once with the top-two teams advancing to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals will seal their spots in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
“We all know what these Qualifiers mean to the participating nations. We haven’t qualified for the global showpiece since 2014 where I played. The boys are all motivated and are obsessed with the goal we have set out to achieve. Hopefully, we can perform well in all aspects of the game and qualify,” Raza added.
While Test-playing nation Ireland begin the tournament as a favourites, there is a lot of excitement in the camp of debutants — Germany and the Philippines.
Ahead of the qualifier, Ireland skipper Andrew Balbirnie expressed optimism that his team would make it to the World Cup, but admitted that his side deserved to play the qualifiers after their lacklustre performance in the T20 World Cup in 2021.
“We have been pretty inconsistent and deserved to be here. But we know that when we play well, we can beat any team. The short and sharp format of the game leaves less scope for complacency,” said the skipper.
Ireland have qualified for six of the last seven editions of the T20 World Cup. “We had learnt our lessons during the previous T20 World Cups, and we can’t take any team for granted. We have to be on our toes all through the event,” added Balbirnie.
Ireland are clubbed with UAE, Bahrain and Germany in Group B and the Irish batter added: “It was great to see teams like Germany, Philippines [Group A], Bahrain reaching at this stage. The T20 game is getting more competitive and we expect some exciting matches.”
Hosts Oman, who like Ireland, qualified for this tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the T20 World Cup 2021 held in Oman and UAE, will be banking on their home advantage. Oman are pooled in Group A along with Nepal, who will be looking to qualify for the first time since making their debut in 2014, Canada and Philippines.
In the other matches on Friday, hosts Oman take on Nepal, Canada meet Philippines and Germany face Bahrain.