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17 March 201317:45

Ireland seeks ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 qualification

A victory in the double-header against the UAE will put it on the verge of direct qualification

Ireland seeks ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 qualification - Cricket News

Ireland team.

Ireland will be aiming to win its Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship double-header against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a result that will put it on the verge of qualifying directly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The 50-over non-ODI matches will be played on Monday, 18 March and Wednesday, 20 March in Sharjah.

Ireland currently leads Scotland and Afghanistan in the eight-team tournament by two points. Back-to-back victories in the fifth round of the WCL Championship will put the European side on 17 points, which in turn will all but guarantee it a top two finish in the tournament and direct qualification to its third consecutive ICC Cricket World Cup.

On the other side of the coin, the UAE may be sitting in sixth position in the WCL Championship, but, if it wins both matches, the UAE will rocket to the top of the table and throw the WCL Championship wide open, with only two rounds of the tournament remaining.

Ireland's final two round opponents are Scotland and the Netherlands, while the UAE will play Canada and Namibia. The current windows for round six and seven fixtures are July-August and September-October, respectively. Final dates and venues for the fixtures will be announced in due course.

As part of the ICC's initiative to promote elite cricket played by the top Associate and Affiliate Members, both of the crucial 50-over matches between Ireland and UAE will be streamed live at www.icc-cricket.com. The ICC also live streamed the fifth round matches played between Afghanistan and Scotland earlier this month, making this the first time that multiple WCL Championship matches will be broadcast to a global audience.

Below please find the points table of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (each win earns two points while one point is awarded for a no-result):
Ireland 8 6 1 1 13 1.187
Scotland 10 5 4 1 11 -0.018
Afghanistan 10 5 4 1 11 -0.313
Netherlands 8 5 3 0 10 0.643
Kenya 10 5 5 0 10 0.006
UAE 8 5 3 0 10 -0.185
Namibia 8 2 6 0 4 -0.375
Canada 10 1 8 1 3 -0.71

Previewing the UAE match, Ireland captain William Porterfield said: "We will approach these matches like we would any other, with the same thoroughness and attention to detail."

"The UAE has been pretty formidable at home in this competition as seen in its wins against Afghanistan. The home side is very tough, especially in Sharjah, so we will not be taking anything lightly. We have done our research on the UAE side, and with the amount of footage these days on all teams it will be pretty rare to come up against someone that we know nothing about. We will be as best prepared as possible," Porterfield continued.

Porterfield said his side was not looking beyond the UAE match. "We will be taking on the UAE with the intention of picking up four points. It would be foolish of us to look past these games or indeed consider them to be easier than the games against Scotland or Netherlands," he said.

The left-hander said at this pivotal stage of the competition, his side was focused on qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 "more than ever."

"We have been progressing now for a while and qualifying for major tournaments is a must. We've played in the final stages of ICC world events five times and we're keen for that run to continue," he said.

UAE's head coach and former Pakistan fast bowler Aqib Javed said he was mindful of the importance of this crucial fifth round fixture.

"For us, it is not less than a do or die situation," he remarked, adding: "I personally assume that both the opponents are evenly strong-nerved and highly motivated, if one is soaring high in the air with a confidence of leading the points table, another is standing resolute on the ground with the home ground advantages on its side."

Aqib said his side felt motivation rather than pressure to try to qualify directly for the ICC World Cup 2015: "Since we are overwhelmed with the profound desire of qualifying for the ICC World Cup, we know losing a single game would mean burying our dreams.

"Home ground advantages are at our side. We would positively be undertaking the adverse hot weather and low and slow pitch conditions to exploit our rival," he concluded.

Kenya v Canada

Meanwhile, Kenya won both its WCL Championship fixtures against Canada in Dubai this week.

In the first match on 11 March at the ICC Global Cricket Academy, Kenya beat Canada by six runs. Kenya's Elijah Otieno took four for 38 to restrict Canada to 227 for eight. In turn, Irfan Karim (65), Morris Ouma (46), Collins Obuya (34) and Alex Obanda (26) made even contributions as Kenya reached victory in 47.4 overs with six wickets to spare.

In the second match two days later at the same venue, Karim stroked a fine century (112 off 137 with 11 fours) and Obuya contributed 57 as Kenya achieved the 254-run target with 12 balls and six wickets to spare. Earlier, Rizwan Cheema (55), Raza-ur-Rehman (51), Damodar Daesrath ((40) and Hiral Patel (36) batted well to propel Canada to 253 for nine.

The two sides will now go head to head in the four-day first-class Pepsi ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-2013 match at the ICC Global Cricket Academy. Kenya is currently sitting in seventh position on 22 points while Canada has 10 points. Both the sides have played four matches each.

The forthcoming WCL Championship matches are as follows:

UAE v Ireland

18 Mar - WCL Championship, 50-over, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

20 Mar - WCL Championship, 50-over, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

Namibia v Netherlands

16 Apr - WCL Championship, 50-over, Wanderers, Windhoek

18 Apr - WCL Championship, 50-over, Wanderers, Windhoek