WCL Championship matches to be streamed live on ICC website www.icc-cricket.com and ICC YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/CricketICC; photos to be available on ICC ftp site
Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the venue for four critical one-day matches that will confirm the second side to qualify, after Ireland, for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will staged in Australia and New Zealand from 14 February to 29 March.
Host UAE will face Namibia in the two day/night 50-over matches on 27 and 29 September, while Afghanistan will go head-to-head with Kenya in two ODIs on 2 and 4 October, with both matches starting at 1000 local time.
Both UAE and Afghanistan must win their double-headers in Sharjah to stay in the race for the crucial second position in the tournament that will help it qualify for the World Cup.
These matches are the last encounters of the final round of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship, which commenced in 2011 and includes the top eight Associate and Affiliate sides competing for qualification to the ICC’s flagship 50-over event.
Coming into the final round of the tournament in fifth spot, the UAE with 14 points is only one point behind Afghanistan and Scotland, and four points behind second-placed Netherlands (18 points). A double-win against Namibia will see the UAE pick up four points and join Netherlands on 18 points. However, the home side will be ranked ahead of the Dutch based on the number of matches won, thus, eliminating the European side.
Nevertheless, Afghanistan can shut the door on the UAE and qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 for the first time in its history if it wins both its matches against Kenya. In this scenario, Afghanistan will finish on 19 points, on ahead of the UAE and the Netherlands (18 points each).
In contrast, if both the UAE and Afghanistan drop points in Sharjah, then the Netherlands will progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 while the bottom six sides from the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, along with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda will receive a second chance to advance at next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand.
The UAE has enjoyed a strong warm up to its critical WCL Championship encounters, having beaten Namibia on Monday in the sides’ first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup clash. Player of the match Ahmed Raza claimed seven for 37 to help his side to its first outright victory in the tournament since July 2011, when it beat Kenya by 266 runs.
UAE coach and former Pakistan fast bowler Aqib Javed said the home team’s preparation for the clash is driven by the desire to win direct qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. “Direct qualification is our ultimate dream, since playing the ICC Cricket World Cup is like living a dream. Everyone is focused on doing well in the upcoming crucial games because every member of the team is working really hard to make it happen,” he said.
The UAE has won seven of its WCL Championship matches so far during this competition, and Aqib says the team is full of confidence coming into the final round of the competition. “The whole unit is very happy and confident from the recent outcomes, and very eager to do well against Namibia in our own environment.”
Aqib feels his team has the necessary depth to perform well under the pressure of the do-or-die final round encounter, including big hitter Shaiman Anwar, the second-highest run-getter so far in the tournament. “It’s good to see Shaiman Anwar's brilliant performances, from the last few months his mental side has improved amazingly. Another key player is Nasir Aziz who had done extremely well with the ball and we all believe that he will do something good against Namibia. We have got a few seasoned and experienced players in our unit who can perform well in difficult situations.”
Namibia - Raymond van Schoor (captain), Stephan Baard, Christopher Coombe, Michau Du Preez, Zane Edward Green, Jean Pierre Kotze, Xander Pitchers, Bernard Scholtz, Nicolaas Scholtz, JJ Smit, Christiaan Frank Snyman, Louis Van Der Westhuizen, Christoffel Viljoen, Helao Ya France
United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Khurram Khan (captain), Saqib Ali, Shaiman Anwar, Muhammad Azam, Nasir Aziz, Mehrooz Khan, Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Naveed, Swapnil Patil, Ahmed Raza, Muhammad Shafiq, Saqib Hussain Shah, Kamran Shahzad, Shadeep Silva
Umpires – Enamul Hoque and Sarika Siva Prasad
Match referee – Steve Bernard
Both the matches will start at 1400 local time (1000 GMT)
Afghanistan - Mohammed Nabi Eisakhell (captain), Mirwais Ashraf, Hamid Hassan, Amir Hamza Hotak, Nowroz Khan Mangal, Mohammad Shehzad Mohammedi, Karim Khan Sadiq, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Samiullah Shinwari, Sayed Ahmed Shirzad, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, Shahpur Zadran, Afsar Khan Zazai, Rahmat Shah Zurmati
Kenya - Collins Obuya (captain), Ragheb Aga, Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Tanmay Mishra, Shem Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Nelson Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Morris Ouma, Rakep Patel, Hiren Varaiya, Dominic Wesonga
Umpires – Buddhi Pradhan and Ruchira Palliyaguru
Match referee – Steve Bernard
Both the matches will start at 1000 local time (0600 GMT)
Forthcoming Pepsi ICC WCL Championship matches
UAE v Namibia (to be streamed live at www.icc-cricket.com and ICC YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/CricketICC)
27 Sep – 1st 50-over match, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
29 Sep – 2nd 50-over match, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Both matches will start at 1400 local time (1000 GMT)
Afghanistan v Kenya (to be streamed live at www.icc-cricket.com and ICC YouTube Channel, http://www.youtube.com/CricketICC)
2 Oct – 1st ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
4 Oct – 2nd ODI, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Both matches will start at 1000 local time (0600 GMT)
Pepsi ICC WCL Championship points table (as on 24 September)
* Ireland has already sealed a place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, regardless of how the seventh and final round matches of the competition pan out
For more information on the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship, please click here.
Umpire and match referee appointments can be found here.