UAE are hoping a strong batting performance at the picturesque Saxton Oval would get them off to a dream start in the 2015 World Cup by beating Zimbabwe.
The two teams are expected to bow out in the group stage after the second associate member country in Pool B – Ireland – started their campaign with a sensational win over the West Indies at the same ground on Monday.
It is only the second World Cup for the UAE, and the side is well aware they have a great chance of recording their second win in the tournament against a side that put up a great fight against South Africa in their opening match, but has been struggling in international cricket in recent times.
It would appear that the UAE is coming into the match with a great track record – almost similar to that of pre-tournament favourites Australia and New Zealand – having won four of their last five ODI matches. But those came against Hong Kong and Afghanistan, and this is definitely a different level of cricket.
Despite losing both their practice matches, UAE captain Mohammad Tauqir said the team was high on confidence.
“I thought we did very well against the Australians, and even though we were bowled out for 116, the performance on the field and the fact that we played a full-strength Australia side that was giving its 100 per cent effort on a ground like Melbourne Cricket Ground, was a great boost to our motivation,” said the newly-elected captain.
“I think compared to that match, everything else will be appear easy for us. We have prepared as best as we could for this tournament, and the moment has finally come for each of us to live our dream.”
UAE coach Aaqib Javed said the most crucial aspect of the match would be batting.
“Given the playing conditions, I think the matches in this World Cup are heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen. With the field restrictions, and with the two new balls being used, your only chance as a bowling unit is to keep on attacking, but all you need is a couple of batsmen to get set, and as we have seen in the first few matches, a score of 300 is very much gettable, and in fact, it is important that you score that much,” said Javed.
“I think we have a very good batting line-up and most of the players are looking in good touch. Obviously, a lot will depend on Khurram Khan, and I am glad he is in such a good form.
The one area where both teams will jostle for superiority is fielding, so crucial given how fast the outfield at Nelson is, and the smallish boundaries.
“We have made such a massive improvement in that particular area of the game. I can now say that we are actually a good fielding unit,” added Javed.
“We are aware that this match represents a great opportunity for us to open the campaign on a positive note. Zimbabwe are a Test-playing nation, but they have struggled against teams like Bangladesh. If we can beat them, and then have a couple of good days, who knows, we could be in the quarter-finals.”
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