Dubai: The UAE cricket team will have to qualify again to play in the next Asia Cup.

The UAE qualified for the Asia Cup in 2004 by winning the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy at Kuala Lumpur. They defeated Oman in the final by 94 runs.

The ACC had declared that the finalists of the ACC Trophy would qualify for the prestigious Asia Cup joining the four Asian Test playing countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Unfortunately the tight schedule of the India and Pakistan teams has caused repeated postponements of the Asia Cup. The Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Pakistan soon after India's tour of Pakistan in March this year.

The Indian cricket board, stating that the Pakistan tour was too long and that the players were tired, sought a postponement of the event.

Impressive show

The Asia Cup was last held in Sri Lanka in 2004. The UAE had also qualified to play in the tournament by winning the ACC Trophy.

Although the UAE lost all their matches, they put up an impressive show against the Test-playing countries.

The Asia Cup is supposed to be held every two years but due to the tight schedule of the Test playing countries it will not be held until 2008.

According to the decision of the ACC, the ACC Trophy will now be held in Malaysia from August 12 to 31. Fourteen nations will take part in the ACC Trophy this year. The UAE will have to reach the final again to win a slot in the Asia Cup.

The UAE had recorded a hat-trick in the ACC Trophy winning it in 2000 in Sharjah by beating Hong Kong by three wickets, then defending the title in 2002 by outplaying Nepal by six wickets in Singapore, and again winning in Malaysia in 2004.

The UAE team is in peak form, having finished fourth in the recent EurAsia Cup in Abu Dhabi.

They finished ahead of Netherlands and Ireland, who will be playing in the 2007 World Cup.

Sri Lanka likely to head Asian Cricket Council

Sri Lanka Cricket Board chief Jayantha Dharmasena is likely to head the Asia Cricket Council (ACC) from next month. Sharad Pawar, the president of the BCCI is currently the president of the ACC.

As per the ACC's policy of rotation, the Indian board president, who has occupied the position for two years, will have to step down. Pawar had taken over from Jagmohan Dalmiya, who resigned after losing the BCCI elections. Now it is the turn of Sri Lanka. Pawar may also seek an extension for a third year. This will be decided in the ACC annual general body meeting to be held in Kuala Lumpur on June 17 and 18.