SALTIRES coach Pete Steindl has warned that fitness will be crucial to his side’s chances of qualifying for next year’s T20 World Cup.

The Scots have been handed a gruelling schedule of seven games in eight days during the sixteen-team tournament in the desert heat of Dubai.

They must finish in the top two just to keep their hopes of reaching the global finals alive and could then face a further two matches before securing one of the two places on offer in Sri Lanka next September.

Steindl said: “It is going to be fast and furious and every game will be tough.

“The guys will be putting in a lot of hard graft over the next two months because we will need to be fit and robust if we are to get through.”

The Saltires open their qualifying campaign against Kenya at Dubai’s Global Cricket Academy on March 13 and tackle Namibia the following day.

Matches against little known Uganda and Oman follow before they have a rest day to prepare for a potential crunch clash against qualification favourites Ireland.

Scotland complete their Group B schedule with matches against Italy and dark-horses USA.

The top side will then meet the winner of Group A in a winner-takes-all shoot-out to qualify for the World Cup while the loser of that match gets a second chance against the winner of the two group runners-up.

Steindl added: “There are no easy games in T20 and there are a lot of dangerous teams in our group.

“Teams like Oman and Italy are improving all the time and we needed a super-over to beat Uganda when we met them in Kenya last year so we are under no illusions.

“It’s going to be a real dogfight to get through but we will be ready for the challenge.”

Steindl will name his squad next month.

ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier (Scotland’s Schedule):
March 13 Scotland v Kenya (Dubai GCA 1)
March 14 Scotland v Namibia (Abu Dhabi Stadium)
March 15 Scotland v Uganda (Dubai GCA 1)
March 16 Scotland v Oman (Sharjah Stadium)
March 18 Scotland v Ireland (Dubai Sports Stadium)
March 19 Scotland v Italy (Dubai GCA 2)
March 20 Scotland v USA (Dubai GCA 2)

Group A: Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark, Nepal.