UAE and West Indies begin ODI series with eye on Zimbabwe qualifiers - GulfToday

UAE and West Indies begin ODI series with eye on Zimbabwe qualifiers


A view of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

A confident UAE will look to hone their skills and ramp up their preparations in the three-match ODI series against the two-time world champions West Indies ahead of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Both the teams, the UAE and the West Indies are fighting to qualify for the World Cup that will be held in India later this year. The first match of the series will be played on Sunday in Sharjah. All three matches will be staged at the same venue.

Both the UAE and the West Indies have made it the last round of the qualifiers and kept their hopes alive. It is for the first time UAE are returning since their appearance in the event in 2005, when it was called Champions Trophy.

UAE qualified for Zimbabwe Qualifiers by virtue of Namibia’s big victory over Canada in Nepal. Their loss handed the UAE a spot in the Zimbabwe qualifier.

Both the teams – UAE and West Indies -- will depart for Zimbabwe at the end of the series for their World Cup qualifying campaign which begins on June 18.

The all-important tournament will confirm the remaining two spots for the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The other Associate Nations who qualified for Zimbabwe World Cup Qualifiers are Scotland, Oman and Nepal. They booked their berths by finishing in top-three in the World Cup League 2 ODI tourney, which was played from 2019 through 2023.

They will be joined by bottom five teams who finished in the bottom of the ODI Super League: Netherlands, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Sri Lanka and one of either South Africa or Ireland. Though South Africa have already qualified for the World Cup when Bangladesh defeated Proteas.

UAE captain Mohammad Waseem expressed his confidence during the trophy unveiling ahead of the series opener. He also said they are wary of West Indies.

“Though the West Indies have yet not qualified for the World Cup. But they are a very strong team and they have the capability to make a cut for the cricket extravaganza in India.

“But we are also looking forward to put our best foot forward against a side who have won the World Cup two times and have long legacy,” said Waseem.

Waseem, who has led form the front, looked unfazed by the searing heat and vowed to give their best.

“We have been working hard for a month in this weather. We are prepared to play in this heat. I don’t think the weather can deter us or it will take its toll on the players.

“I hope our hard work of one month will help us in the series. As all the boys are very excited and looking forward to go out all gun blazing against very formidable West Indies side,” said Waseem.

He also sounded very optimistic about qualifying for the showpiece event in India.

“The way we have been performing and training hard, I am very hopeful that we will qualify for the event. And it is my dream to play in the 50-over World Cup,” he added.

UAE have terminated the contract of their coach Robin Singh and hired Mudassar Nazar as interim coach. The absence of a regular coach may hamper their performance. It is always a challenging proposition to adapt to a new set-up for any team.

Meanwhile, the West Indies also have a new set-up with both the captain and coach appointed recently. West Indies, who have won T20 World Cup, failed to qualify for the recently concluded World Cup in 2022.

Daren Sammy has been appointed the coach which did not augur well with quite a few former West Indies players. West indies cricket has been going through a turmoil and few of their senior players have opted out of the team until their issues are not resolved with the board.

Sammy was given the charge of the team almost a decade ago as a captain when the team was going through the same kind of turmoil. He led them to two T20 titles in 2012 and 2016.

The board is hoping that he can emulate the same success as a coach. West Indies captain Shai Hopes sounded confident and excited.

“I am very much excited. New captain, new coach, new players and new challenges. We are looking forward to this series to give final touch to our preparations for Zimbabwe event,” said Hopes.


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