Afghanistan still in the hunt and can leapfrog UAE if it wins both WCL Championship matches against Kenya on 2 and 4 October
VNR of match highlights will be available through SNTV
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recorded back-to-back victories against Namibia in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship to keep its hopes of direct qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 alive. The host defeated Namibia by 135 runs in the second 50-over match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday to tighten its grip on second place, bolstering its chances of qualifying alongside Ireland to the ICC’s flagship 50-over event.
Coming into its final match of the Championship, third-placed UAE was one of three teams still in contention for the crucial second spot, and the side needed victory in the second do-or-die match against Namibia to remain in the race, while also eliminating the Netherlands.
The UAE’s Shaiman Anwar again led with the bat, with a knock of 57 making him the highest run-getter of the tournament (625 runs from 14 innings) and helping his side to a total of 215 all out. Twenty-four year old Rohan Mustafa contributed with 39, while Namibia’s Christoffel Viljoen claimed four wickets to become the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, with 23 victims from 14 innings. In response, Namibia lost some early wickets and never recovered, with Mustafa following up his performance with the bat to claim three wickets for eight runs to help dismiss Namibia for 80 runs in 32 overs.
The win sees the UAE leapfrog Netherlands into second position, with the same number of points (18) but ahead on the number of matches won (nine), thereby knocking the Netherlands out of contention for the second and final automatic qualification spot.
Afghanistan, currently ranked fourth, is the only team that can now overtake the UAE when it faces Kenya in the final matches of the WCL Championship on 2 and 4 October at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Afghanistan is three points behind both the UAE and the Netherlands (15 points), and must win both ODIs to pick up maximum points and seize second spot from the UAE.
UAE coach and former Pakistan fast bowler Aqib Javed was delighted that his team performed under pressure to seize hold of second place. “Winning and moving to second place was what we always wanted before the Namibia matches. To win all the matches, challenge the other teams - I’m very happy. Now we have to see what happens when Afghanistan plays Kenya. Everything went according to plan for us today.”
Aqib was particularly pleased with his squad’s batting performances. “As usual, Shamin Anwar has done really well and today he becomes the highest run-getter. I’m glad the Khurram Kahn is the highest run-getter in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and Shaiman is in the WCL Championship. I think that we have some good batsmen for the UAE and today Rohan Mustafa, the youngster, was brilliant. I think his improvement in the last six to eight months is amazing. I think he will be a key player for the UAE in the coming years.”
Despite the importance of the upcoming clashes between Afghanistan and Kenya, Aqib doesn’t think he’ll come to the stadium to watch. “I’m not a good spectator!”
Namibia coach Doug Watson felt that his side’s recent batting woes, rather than pressure, were the cause of the loss. “There’s probably more pressure on them than us, with what they had to play for, but I think there was pressure anyway because of how poorly we played in the first WCL Championship game. It was a much better performance today, and again, the fielding and bowling was brilliant – it was the batting that let us down.”
Watson was particularly pleased with the bowlers. “Christi Viljoen bowled really well, and another young chap who’s only 17 years old, Tiaan Snyman, he bowled eight overs for 30 the first time he took the new ball, which is brilliant.”
The coach feels that his young squad will benefit from the match as Namibia turns its mind to preparing for a number of upcoming global events, starting with the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 in the UAE in November. “The nice thing is, we have a really young team and we’ve been exposed to these conditions now, they know what to expect. I think the conditions will be a little bit quicker in November, but I think it also gives everyone a good wakeup call and probably makes my job slightly easier, because the players will be even more keen to train now.”
While the top two sides from the Pepsi ICC WCL Championship will qualify automatically for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the bottom six teams will receive a second chance to advance at next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand, when they will lock horns with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda for the final two spots in the ICC’s flagship 50-over tournament.
The upcoming matches between Afghanistan and Kenya will be streamed live at www.icc-cricket.com and on the official ICC YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/CricketICC.
Scores in brief
UAE defeated Namibia by 135 runs
UAE – 215 all out (50 overs); Shaiman Awar 57, Rohan Mustafa 39, Saqib Ali 29; Christoffel Viljoen 4-40
Namibia – 80 all out (31.3 overs); Xander Pitchers 29, Jean Pierre Kotze 12; Rohan Mustafa 3-8, Khurram Khan 2-6, Nasir Aziz 2-9, Shadeep Silva 2-19