Netherlands and UAE eye World Cup qualification
After the disappointment of the washed-out Intercontinental Cup match in Deventer this week, the attention of the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates now turns to the two crucial World Cricket League Championship matches which are scheduled for Saturday and Monday.
These, too, are vital for both teams, and with two automatic qualification places at the 2015 World Cup at stake we must hope that the outcome is decided on the field, without interruption from the weather.
There was enough play at Het Schootsveld to confirm that the sides are evenly matched, although the Dutch will be reinforced by the return of skipper Peter Borren, allrounder Mudassar Bukhari and his fellow-seamer Ahsan Malik Jamil from injury, and by the release of batsman Tom Cooper from his Australia A duties.
Still missing, of course, will be opener Stephan Myburgh, as will Worcestershire’s Alexei Kervezee, who has also suffered a broken bone in his hand.
But the success of newcomer Shahbaz Bashir, who became the fifth Dutch batsman to record a first-class century and the first to do so on debut, and who also contributed a useful nine-over spell when the home side fielded, was one of the real positives to come out of the Intercontinental Cup match.
The Emiratis, too, are likely to be strengthened for the one-day matches by the inclusion of the experienced Saqib Ali, one of their most consistent run-scorers, who was left out of the side in Deventer because of injury.
Their trio of seamers, Sharif Asadullah, Manjula Guruge and Amjad Javed, did pretty well in that match, with Javed picking up four wickets, but with Mohammad Tauqir coming in for some punishment from Shahbaz the spin department made less impression than might have been expected and here, too, Saqib will probably make a contribution.
Having won five of their six matches to date, beating Afghanistan and Scotland twice each and sharing their opening series with Kenya, the UAE sit surprisingly high in the WCL Championship table at present, but the adjustment to European conditions is a significant one, and while they have had the advantage of playing 140 overs of the four-day game, the Dutch will clearly want to make the most of their home advantage.
The weather forecasts for both Rotterdam on Saturday and Deventer on Monday are distinctly promising, and the prospect is for two keenly-contested matches. The sides’ one-day clashes in the past have produced five victories for each, with the UAE having prevailed in the most recent, at Potchefstroom during the 2009 World Cup qualifier.
Eric Szwarczynski and Mudassar Bukhari are the only members of that Dutch side who are in the squad for this series, while in the Emirati camp the survivors are skipper Khurram Khan, Saqib, and Amjad Javed.
The squads are: