UAE captain Rohan Mustafa says reaching World Cup Qualifiers 'would be pretty special'

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Rohan Mustafa says it would be a “pretty special feeling” as captain if he can help the UAE reach the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.

The UAE open their World Cricket League Division Two campaign against Kenya on Thursday, knowing if they can finish in the top two of the six-team tournament, they will advance to next month’s main World Cup qualifying campaign.

Two-time World T20 champions West Indies and new Test nations Ireland and Afghanistan are just three of the sides that will be competing for the two spots in Zimbabwe.

Mustafa insists it would be a remarkable feat if the UAE can still be in the mix for qualification for the 2019 showpiece event in England and Wales.

“Yes of course it would be a pretty special feeling,” said the 29-year-old all-rounder. “To be honest we are all thinking of wanting to qualify for the 2019 World Cup but we must do well in these matches in Namibia.

“We will treat each game at a time as we don’t want to look too far ahead. But if we can claim one of the two spots, it won’t be just special for me but for the whole team. You can say it’s the most important tournament that we’ll be playing for a long time.”

The UAE have been given a second and final opportunity to reach the Qualifiers after missing out on qualification in Division One.

In that competition, they finished third from bottom in the eight-team event, resulting in relegation to the competition’s second tier.  Joining them in this week’s event in Namibia are the hosts, Nepal and Kenya – who were all relegated as well as Oman and Canada who were promoted from Division Three.

The UAE will be one of the favourites to claim one of the two berths following their resurgence under Mustafa’s captaincy and head coach Dougie Brown in the last 12 months.

But Mustafa insists they have to deliver when it really matters, saying their previous results are now history.

“Cricket is developing very fast and all the teams that are competing are very balanced,” he said. “I think Namibia and Oman will be especially tough as they have been playing very good cricket for the last couple of months. I believe Namibia will be taking advantage of their home conditions while Oman will be well prepared.”

He added: “Our opening match against Kenya will be the most important game. If we win that it can give us a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament. If we lose that game it will be very difficult for us. It’s an important match so let’s hope for the best.”

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Head coach Dougie Brown wants UAE to treat all Division Two games as a 'final'

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UAE coach: Dougie Brown.

UAE head coach Dougie Brown has told his players to treat every match of their World Cricket League Division Two as a “final”, saying there’s no room for error if they want to advance to next month’s 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.

The UAE open their campaign against Kenya at the Namibian capital of Windhoek on Thursday as they bid to seal one of the two spots and join the likes of West Indies, Afghanistan and Ireland in the final qualifying round in Zimbabwe.

Canada, Nepal, Namibia and Kenya all stand in the UAE’s way over the next 10 days and Brown insists his players need to hit the ground running if they want to achieve their goal.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to do (treat each game as a final),” said Brown. “We know we can’t afford to slip up in a half an hour period or getting a couple of overs wrong.

“Every game will be of intense pressure and we have to play each game as if it’s a final. That’s what we as a coaching team is trying to make the players understand when we were here in Pretoria. Every single ball is an important one and it’s the same in fielding. The game can instantly change within a blink of an eye.

“We’re getting up to that where every ball is equally important and we can’t afford to have eight players focused and three are not – it has to be done as a team. We know if we can get that right, we can be a handful for anyone as some players are playing some really good cricket. We go into the tournament confident but we are only as good as our attitude.”

The UAE go into the tournament on the back of a morale-boosting victory over Scotland in the home tri-series which involved Ireland, as well as a series of practice matches against Afghanistan.

Among those to impress is No.4 batsman Rameez Shahzad, who struck two fifties and a century, while Shaiman Anwar scored a ton against Afghanistan.

Brown is pleased his batsmen are beginning to click at a crucial period but stressed it’s important they continue to put in consistent performances in Namibia.

“We know our batters are performing well. What we need to do is how to play a tournament because it’s different to a one-off game where you can have a good performance,” said the 48-year-old.

“We’re trying to adapt the players to playing tournament cricket. What we are keen to show is that we can play a different game and we have players who can play exceptionally well. This will be a huge challenge. If we play the tournament well, it fits up nicely for Zimbabwe. If we don’t do it well, then we don’t know what exactly will happen. We don’t want to be playing Division Two or Division Three cricket. It’s incredibly important for all of us to get this tournament spot on. Everything I’ve seen shows that we’re tracking on really well.”

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ICC continues investigation into Ajman All Stars event

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The International cricket Council will continue its investigation into a Twenty20 match in the United Arab Emirates as it believes there is “strong evidence to indicate this was a corrupt event”.

The Ajman All Stars event was not sanctioned by the ICC, UAE cricket board (ECB) or, reportedly, the Ajman cricket Council but came to wider attention when a video appearing to show several bizarre dismissals from the match went viral on social media.

A number of stumpings without batsmen attempting to make their ground and farcical run-outs led to a probe from the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.

While it acknowledges the ICC and the ECB cannot take action because they did not approve the event, the target will now be on identifying the organisers to prevent a repeat occurrence.

Alex Marshall, the general manager of the ICC anti-corruption unit said: “The event was not approved or in any way sanctioned by the Emirates cricket Board (ECB) and therefore neither the ECB nor the ICC has authority to take action under cricket’s anti-corruption rules against anybody who may have engaged in any corrupt practice.

“However after speaking to a number of those involved we consider there to be strong evidence to indicate this was a corrupt event and damaging to the wider reputation of cricket and as such will continue the investigation.

“Our ongoing enquiries will now focus on identifying the organisers of the tournament to prevent similar incidents occurring elsewhere and to disrupt corrupt practices wherever we can.

“In addition, all member boards whose players have participated in this event will be asked to consider whether by doing so, those players are in breach of any other applicable rules, including those that prohibit participation in unsanctioned cricket, and if so for disciplinary action to be taken against them.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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