Dubai: UAE skipper Muhammad Waseem feels confident of clinching one of the two spots on offer as the six-team playoffs for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier begins in Namibia on Sunday.
The UAE have been having a topsy-turvy run and their lack of consistency has cost them one of the top three spots that would have given them an automatic place in the 10-team Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe.
However, undeterred by the negatives, Waseem, the backbone of UAE batting and who has the big-match temperament, looks at the positives in the last couple of games in the tri-series in Nepal that also included Papua New Guinea, where the UAE batters got their touch and the much-needed confidence.
Waseem, in an ICC statement, said: “The ICC Men’s CWC Qualifier Playoff in Namibia is a very important event for us and we are fully focused on delivering our best. We were able to deliver two good performances in the last two matches of the tri-series in Nepal. The batters produced some good results and the form of Asif Khan and Vriitya Aravind is encouraging for us. I am also pleased that I contributed with my maiden ODI century. Asif produced one of the best ODI knocks by an Associate Member player and showed the world what he is capable of. I am confident that we are more than capable of producing good results in Namibia.”
Maiden ODI century
The UAE will meet PNG in the opener on Monday and will be hoping to take the confidence from the previous encounter, when Waseem’s maiden ODI century guided his team to a comfortable six-wicket win in Kirtipur.
PNG captain Assad Vala said: “We come into these qualifiers with some form behind us but we understand that we are the underdogs. We have been to Namibia before and understood the conditions we will face. We have recently had some tough matches against UAE and know they have had recent changes to management and the team, so we are looking forward to meeting them again.”
The Playoff, which is two steps away from the World Cup, features the teams who placed in the bottom four places of the Men’s CWC League 2 and the top spots in the CWC Challenge League A and B respectively.
Hosts Namibia take on US in the opener on Sunday after the southwest African nation was edged out by Nepal for an automatic spot in the Qualifier.
Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus said: “We’ve got a decent record at home and, hopefully, if we play well, we can advance. Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple of unavailabilities and changes in our set up over the last six months. But we’ve got the best squad for the moment, and I’m excited for the guys growing into their roles. We’ll be looking to play our brand of cricket at the Wanderers ground to go hard and win the opener.”
USA, who are relatively new to the one-dayers after gaining the ODI status in 2019, has been making their experience count as they have gained an automatic spot in the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup, to be hosted by USA and West Indies.
United States captain Monank Patel said: “It’s been a great experience playing in the CWC League 2. I feel we have done reasonably well as a group playing ODI’s for the first time. It showed that we belong in this league but we still have lots of areas to improve. We would like to take that experience and ensure we do well in this event and progress to the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe. Also, with the T20 World Cup set to be played on home soil next year, this is a great opportunity for USA to play in two World Cups within 12 months.”
The Playoff, which also has Canada and Jersey, is the final opportunity for teams to book a place in the Zimbabwe Qualifier, which will take place from 18 June — 9 July later this year.