UAE warmed up for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier which gets underway on Monday in New Zealand by thumping the Netherlands by six wickets on Saturday.
Wicket-keeper batsman Amjad Ali smashed 70 off 86 balls to steer UAE to their second victory as the two top ranked teams locked horns on the second and final day of warm up matches.
After dismissing the Netherlands for 189 in 47.2 overs, Amjad added 88 runs with Salman Faris (34) and Swapnil Patil (26 not out), helping the side reach its target with nine overs to spare.
Earlier, Amjad Javed took three for 23 while Ahmed Raza and Manjula Guruge took two wickets apiece.
UAE sealed a comprehensive 73-run win over Uganda on Friday.
After posting 280 for eight in 50 overs, UAE restricted Uganda to 207 for 5.
UAE were bolstered by a 85-run third-wicket partnership between Salman Faris (47) and Khurram Khan (56) while a 41-ball 59 from Shaiman Anwar and a 30-ball 48 from Rohan Mustafa helped the side get to a competitive total of 280.
Medium pacer Amjad Javed was the pick of the bowlers giving away just 17 runs in his six overs.
Ten teams go head to head in the 20-day tournament to be played at seven venues across New Zealand, with final at Lincoln on February 1.
The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ) gets under way on January 13, with 10 of the leading Associate and Affiliate sides in the world vying for the final two qualification spots in the ICC’s pinnacle event, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 (CWC).
Four matches will be played on day one of the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 with top seed UAE taking on Nepal at Rangiora Oval, Christchurch, second seed Netherlands facing Uganda at Bay Oval, Tauranga, Kenya meeting PNG at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, and Scotland going head to head with Hong Kong at Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown.
UAE captain Khurram Khan said that the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 will provide a golden opportunity for his side.
“If we qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, it’s going to do a lot of good to the UAE cricket," said the veteran.
“Even though it is the top seed, it will be difficult for the UAE right from the group stage. The conditions in New Zealand are completely different to those in the UAE. So it will be a challenge for our batsmen to score heavily and for the pacers to handle the pressure of leading the attack.”
The 10 sides taking part in the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014, formerly known as the ICC Trophy, have been split into two groups of five teams each, with top ranked UAE in Group A alongside 2005 winner Scotland, 2009 finalist Canada, Hong Kong and Nepal.
Group B includes 2001 champion Netherlands, two-time finalist Kenya, 2001 finalist Namibia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Uganda.
Netherlands captain Peter Borren was confident that his side can go all the way to the final.
“I would say that we have a very good chance of qualifying. I think we have a well drilled side which has a great balance of talent and experience.
“Conditions in New Zealand can vary quite a bit from venue to venue. I believe that we have a squad with the experience to deal with those variations. Most of our players have been around long enough to adjust,” he said.
Christchurch-born Borren, who also represented New Zealand in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, was delighted with his side’s preparations in New Zealand.
“The team spent a fantastic week training and playing in Whangarei. I think we have achieved what we needed to during the preparation phase, with bowlers getting overs under their belt and batsmen spending time in the middle.”
The top three sides from each group will progress to the Super Six stage, where they will play the teams from the opposing group.
The top two sides from this stage will progress to the February 1 final, which will beplayed at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln.
The finalists will join the 10 Full Members as well as Afghanistan and Ireland in the ICC CWC in Australia and New Zealand, which will be played from February 14 to March 29, 2015.
The winner of the February 1 final will join co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, alongside Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England and Sri Lanka in Pool A, while the runner-up will team up with defending champion India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe in Pool B.
Third-seeded Scotland will be skippered by Kyle Coetzer, who said his side needed to continue its positive momentum. “It will be a tough tournament and we will have to win every match. But our momentum is good. We’ve got the leading spin bowlers in Associate cricket – Majid Haq especially,” said Coetzer.
Canada, which is seeded sixth in New Zealand, is aiming to revive its fortunes under new coach Andy Pick and new captain Jimmy Hansra, who has taken over the reins following Ashish Bagai’s retirement.
Hansra said his team’s first target was to progress to the Super Six stage. “The tournament format means there will be no meaningless matches. So we’ll have to be on our toes throughout, as we aim to advance to the Super Six stage.
“The reason we came in early was to practice. The practice game allowed us to acclimatise, and we’re looking forward to the tournament matches. The guys have refreshed, and we’re very happy and excited with our preparation. This group is very hungry,” said Hansra.
Hong Kong, which qualified for the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 after finishing fourth in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in 2011, recently qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 after finishing sixth at the ICC WT20Q UAE 2013, and captain Jaime Atkinson said his team had been training hard to carry the momentum into the longer format of the game.
“Our confidence is high after the ICC WT20Q. We trained hard in Hong Kong over Christmas and the New Year, and then arrived on 2 January,” remarked Atkinson.
Ninth-seeded Nepal will be led by skipper Paras Khadka, who said the tournament was an enormous opportunity for his side.
“It is a dream to get to the 50-over World Cup. We’ve already qualified for the World Twenty20 and are very happy about it, so now, we will go out all guns blazing for this tournament,” Khadka said.
Nepal trained in Sri Lanka before arriving in New Zealand on December 28, and the all-rounder said of the preparation: “The main reason we came here early was to acclimatise. We felt that in Bermuda for WCL Division 3 in April 2013, the first week was really hard - the time difference, the temperature. It's really helped us to have the time here.”
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